In 2008, a 14-year-old Cree activist named Shannen Koostachin had the simple but ambitious dream of getting a “safe, comfy” school built in the needy First Nations community of Attawapiskat, Ont. Reaching out to children across Canada, she ignited a movement that came to be known as Shannen’s Dream. Koostachin spoke out about the experiences of her community in newspapers, at conferences and on the steps of Parliament Hill. At the age of 14, she was nominated in 2009 for the International Children’s Peace Prize.
Sadly, Koostachin was killed in a car crash in 2010, but the movement she began gained ground, and a school is now scheduled to open in Attawapiskat this fall.
On June 17, in honour of National Aboriginal Day, the Creston Valley Public Library Film Club presents the National Film Board of Canada feature-length documentary, Hi-Ho Mistahey, the story of Shannen Koostachin and her dream to bring equitable access to education in safe and suitable schools for First Nations children.
Hi-Ho Mistahey was created by Alanis Obomsawin, a member of the Abenaki Nation and one of Canada’s most distinguished documentary filmmakers. She began her career as a singer, writer and storyteller, but dove into filmmaking in 1967 with Christmas at Moose Factory, which she wrote and directed. Since then, she has made over 30 uncompromising documentaries on issues affecting Aboriginal people in Canada. For almost 40 years, she has directed documentaries at the National Film Board (NFB) with strong social content, inspired by the desire to let the voices of her people be heard.
In 1983, she was made a member of the Order of Canada, in recognition of her dedication to the well-being of her people and the preservation of the First Nations heritage through her filmmaking and activism.
In Cree, “hi-ho mistahey” roughly translates to “I love you very much.”
Hi-Ho Mistahey will be presented at the Creston Valley Public Library at 7 p.m. June 17. Admission is free. Running time is 100 minutes, and this film is suitable for all audiences. For more information, contact the library at 250-428-4141.
—CRESTON AND DISTRICT PUBLIC LIBRARY