Winlaw students worked with local seniors and Elders to create documentary films. L-R: Rita Moir, Kayden Boisvert, Hallden Dawson. Photo: Submitted

Winlaw students worked with local seniors and Elders to create documentary films. L-R: Rita Moir, Kayden Boisvert, Hallden Dawson. Photo: Submitted

Winlaw School students inspired by seniors film project

Students teamed up with filmmaker Brian Lye to make documentaries

Submitted by School District 8

Grade 5 and 6 students at Winlaw Elementary school have just completed a series of documentary films that showcase the life work, a story, or an achievement of a group of Elders and seniors living in the Slocan Valley.

The goal of the project was to interview role models of active citizenship so that in turn students could connect to the local history of where they live and develop intergenerational relationships.

“When seniors and students meet face to face, everyone benefits,” says Winlaw teacher Linda Out.

With an ArtStarts funding grant, students learned documentary film making skills from local filmmaker Brian Lye. Lye guided the students through the steps of filmmaking including research, writing interview questions, camera use, story boarding, editing, recording voice overs and incorporating B-roll photos.

“The most important and exciting part of this project for me is that the students are being taught a filmmaking practice that focuses on the importance of creating and maintaining respectful relationships with their subjects,” says Lye. “And that the students can include their personal voice and insights on what they have learned into the films.”

In total, 11 short documentary style films have been produced, highlighting a vast array of dedicated volunteers and knowledge keepers in the valley. Each film reveals merits of volunteering, the history of how community resources came to be and an appreciation of local altruism. Stories of how the rail trail came to be, housing initiatives for seniors, the Slocan River Streamkeepers and messages from local Indigenous Elders Marilyn James and Pat Bruderer are among the series of interviews conducted.

The films can now be viewed on the Winlaw school website:

“Learning to be an active informed citizen is an important part of the Social Studies curriculum,” says Out. “And based on the student reflections at the end of each film, many of our students are maturing beyond themselves and developing an interest in global and local citizenship.”

A direct outcome of the film project has been student inspiration to take action.

Val Mayes, a volunteer with the Grassroots Grammas, the Slocan Valley chapter of the Stephen Lewis Foundation, is acting on an inquiry that came out of her interview with the Winlaw students. Mayes explains in her interview how the group of Canadian grandmothers and grand-others are raising awareness and mobilizing support in Canada for those caring for orphaned children of the Aids pandemic in Africa.

“After the interview, they asked me what they could do to help, and whether students could become grand-others and help our cause,” says Mayes. The entire Grade 5-6 Winlaw class is now organizing to participate in a Stride to Turn the Tide walk in June. Donations to support their efforts can be made at

This project was supported by an Artists in the Classroom Grant disbursed by Artstarts in Schools and funded by the Province of British Columbia and the BC Arts Council.

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