qathet film festival 2024
Fri Mar 8 — 7 pm
WaaPaKe, directed by Dr. Jules Arita Koostachin, offers a compelling exploration of the intergenerational impact of residential schools on Indigenous families, shedding light on a dark chapter in Canadian history. Koostachin, her mother, her son, friends, and community members bravely confront the past in WaaPaKe. It’s a story about resilience, love and transformation. Examined through an Indigenous lens, the stories of residential school survivor-warriors and their families offer an understanding of both intergenerational trauma and healing. Through compassionate, candid conversations, Koostatchin shares interviews with five individuals, family and friends, that all directly or indirectly experienced intergenerational trauma.
The film is predominantly shot in a neutral and safe space against a green screen, allowing for the liberation of voices. We see key behind-the-scenes moments that speak as loudly as her subjects’ stories. Each interview begins with Koostachin asking her subjects to introduce themselves, including in their language and with traditional introductions, if they feel comfortable. Several of her subjects admit, with some embarrassment and anger, that they don’t know their language and will have to do so in English.
The testimony from Jules Koostachin herself ties the film together. She’s so articulate about her anger, lost childhood, and the challenges of being raised by a traumatized woman who never had a childhood. She also understands the need to balance her trauma with compassion for her mother. Her frankness, she notes, may be controversial. Ultimately, the film is about hope for the future, as the title WaaPaake, which means “tomorrow” in Cree, suggests. The film ends with an image of the subjects gathering in a smokehouse outside the studio. They then walk outside into the sunlight with newfound hope and confidence. It’s hard not to share the joy and catharsis of important stories finally being told.
Jules Arita Koostachin
Rita Okimawinninew, Asivak Koostachin, Joseph Dandurand, Maisie Smith, Jules Arita Koostachin, Pawaken Koostachin-Chakasim, Tapwewin Koostachin-Chakasim, Mahiigan Koostachin, Connor Nichol and Lynn Power
Country of Origin:
English / Cree with English Subtitles
Director Eileen Francis
Canada / English and ʔayʔaǰuθəm
Joshua Degroot’s poem is based on Tla’amin oral testimony and lovingly spoken by the Tla’amin Nation.