Short film documents Osoyoos Indian Band member’s trip to Kamloops, explains why they want to keep the word “Indian” – Penticton News
Contribution to Little Pine Productions
A group of South Okanagan residents gathered to share the story of a man’s journey with more than 30 horses from Osoyoos to Kamloops on a day the Indigenous community came to reflect on the gruesome find the remains of 215 children at a Kamloops residential school.
A short film titled We ride for children, was produced by Little Pine Productions and follows Aaron Stelkia and his horses as they travel to Kamloops Indian Residential School to honor the lost children and deliver a message from his mother Jane Stelkia, the oldest member of the Indian Band from Osoyoos.
For Jane, who is a residential school survivor, it was important to share the story she lived and the experience of being labeled as Indian.
The project began when Sarah and Lucas Magaretson were turning Stelkia’s cattle when news of the 215 discovery arrived.
“We just looked at each other and said, ‘Well, let’s go on. And that’s when Aaron decided he was going to do something for the kids and the Okanagan Nation, ”Lucas explained.
When members of the indigenous community gathered on June 26 for the convoy to Kamloops, Aaron competed for his horses, which was a really important part of the trip and the representation of the community.
“The people of the Okanagan were traditionally a horse people and when I was young all Indians could ride horses. And when these kids are taken and placed in boarding schools, and the 60 scoop comes along, they’re taken and placed in foster homes, they’re all taken out of that culture. A horse is a big part of culture, ”said Aaron.
“I was like, ‘We have to have horses there to represent our culture and what has been lost.’ Nowadays, it is difficult to find an Indian who knows how to ride a horse. When I was little, everyone knew how to ride.
It was a lot of work to bring 30 horses to Kamloops during the heatwave, even for the group of experienced riders.
“They just knew they had to put on a show and testify. I just think to be there. In the video, we call it a bit of a calculation, ”added Lucas.
When the Stelkias arrived at the residential school, they had a very important message to share, one about keeping the word Indian alive to ensure that the story of the horrific treatment is never lost.
“The word Indian was given to the people here. Today the government is trying to change the word they don’t like. So they try to change it. Originally, the children were placed in a boarding school to get rid of the Indian there. And it’s well documented that’s why they were put into residential school, ”Aaron explained.
“Putting them in residential schools, putting them on reserves, putting them at the highest rate of incarceration in jail, creating the Indian Act, these are all words related to the word Indian. Now, if they change that word Indian to First Nations, in 50 years no one will know the word Indian, the damage that has been done to the Indian people will be lost by changing the name.
“The reason for this change is that they want it to be ancient history. And we’re not history, we’ve been here for thousands and thousands of years. Indians are also called the first peoples, I agree with that. But you can’t throw the Indian out now, ”added Jane.
An important part for the Margetsons in making this film was to have it really in collaboration with the native community.
“We didn’t make this film about the Stelkias, like we did with the Stelkias. And if anything, it was more of a message of hope that we were trying to get across, ”Lucas said.
“We didn’t want it to be just another cold, lifeless monument of what happened to the North American Indian, just another statue that we can look at and say, ‘Oh, that was so sad. “and think it’s a dead part of the story. They’re still there. There’s still a culture. They’re not in the past. They’re sitting right next to me.”
The video is not copyrighted and is free for everyone to watch, use, share, or learn.
Aaron added that he was grateful to the Kamloops Indian Band for working with him that day and making the trip possible.
Watch the full video above or on Vimeo here.