Thursday, November 20, 2008


I'm here in "Winterpeg" for the Winnipeg Aboriginal Film Festival. I've already met some French speakers and some Michif Speakers. I've been handing out some DVDs of the 4 Haidawood movies made to date. There is a showing of "Hoopla!" scheduled for noon on Sunday at the Fairmount Hotel, and waffles will be served.

I've been doing some research on the whole issue of language revitalization, which is a prime focus of the Haidawood Media Project. I came across this on Wikipedia:

Steps in reversing language shift

Joshua Fishman's model for reviving threatened (or dead) languages, or for making them sustainable, consists of an eight-stage process. Efforts should be concentrated on the earlier stages of restoration until they have been consolidated before proceeding to the later stages. The eight stages are as follows:

1. Acquisition of the language by adults, who in effect act as language apprentices (recommended where most of the remaining speakers of the language are elderly and socially isolated from other speakers of the language).
2. Create a socially integrated population of active speakers (or users) of the language (at this stage it is usually best to concentrate mainly on the spoken language rather than the written language).
3. In localities where there are a reasonable number of people habitually using the language, encourage the informal use of the language among people of all age groups and within families and bolster its daily use through the establishment of local neighbourhood institutions in which the language is encouraged, protected and (in certain contexts at least) used exclusively.
4. In areas where oral competence in the language has been achieved in all age groups encourage literacy in the language but in a way that does not depend upon assistance from (or goodwill of) the state education system.
5. Where the state permits it, and where numbers warrant, encourage the use of the language in compulsory state education.
6. Where the above stages have been achieved and consolidated, encourage the use of the language in the workplace (lower worksphere).
7. Where the above stages have been achieved and consolidated encourage the use of the language in local government services and mass media.
8. Where the above stages have been achieved and consolidated encourage use of the language in higher education, government etc.

This model of language revival is intended to direct efforts to where they are most effective and to avoid wasting energy trying to achieve the later stages of recovery when the earlier stages have not been achieved. For instance it is probably wasteful of effort to campaign for the use of the language on television or in government services if hardly any families are in the habit of using the language.

At this point, it looks like the best place to put our efforts is on creating content for adults to learn Haida.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Nuu-chah-nulth Phrase Book & Dictionary

Apparently there is a Nuu-chah-nulth Phrase Book & Dictionary. It would be nice to develop a similar resource for the Haida language. I'm not sure if this already exists or not. I did find this online Alaskan Haida phrasebook. Here are some of the phrases:

Gyáa'aang uu íijang. It is a totem pole.

Tlúugyaa uu íijang. This is a canoe.

Xakwgyáa uu íijang. This is a halibut.

They have sound files associated with each phrase. Even I can hear some similarities and some differences with the Haida I've heard in Masset.


Well, a lot has happened since we finished work on "Yaani K'uuka" and "The Golden Spruce". I'm now working at Full Circle, a First Nations performance company that puts on original works of theater, trains aboriginal youth in theater, and puts on the Talking Stick Festival (Feb. 9-15 2009 in Vancouver).

I'm scheduled to show "Hoopla!" at the Winnipeg Aboriginal Film Festival on Saturday Nov. 22nd. I'm hoping I'll get to meet some people from APTN, the NFB, the Canada Council, and others who would be interested in funding Haidawood for a few years to help make the project sustainable.

There are also plans to show all the movies at a big Haida Feast at the Vancouver Aboriginal Friendship Center on Friday November 29th here in town.

Tonight I've got plans to go to the Bill Reid Gallery to hear a talk about some of the old Haida villages by George MacDonald.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Golden Spruce and Yaani K'uuka done

Last night was a big night: we finished filming for Yaanii K'uuka literally just in time for a 9 pm screening at the Haida Rose Cafe in Old Masset. We also showed the Golden Spruce story, which we finished animating on Tuesday. Both movies were well received, along with Hoopla!, which we made last year. I still need to add the Haida language dialog to the Yaanii K'uuka story, and I've arranged to get a jam session together tomorrow (Saturday) at 3:30 pm at the Haida Rose Guest House to record the musical soundtracks for both movies. I anticipate that we will have a whole range of singers and drummers there to help with that. I also need to work in the nature sounds at some point... so, a lot to do.

We've booked our ferry ride home, now for Tuesday Sept. 16th, a full 11 days later than planned! And, well, that can happen!

I appreciate all the help from the lady Shannon Reynolds. She's been very patient with all the production delays, and she's been an absolute life saver for all her help taking care of the crew as we've all been working night and day on the project.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Making Progress

IMG_8820.JPGfaces for the golden spruce

So, this week has resulted in some on and off again progress. There's been a lot going on, what with Jaalen and Gwaai's play Sinxii'gangu, as well as the opening of the Kaay Llnagaay Cultural Centre, not to mention having a whole group of Haida foster kids in town, as well as the Rediscovery Camp reunion...

I am glad to report that Leo has carved some great faces for the Golden Spruce story out of Devil's Club. I'm pretty happy with the results. My plan is to spend part of Sunday with Jaalen and get the rest of the faces carved, and get the puppets made, so we can work in earnest on filming next week.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Back on Haida Gwaii

I'm back up on Haida Gwaii, and starting work on a short movie about Yaanee Ku'kaa, a witch from Haida legend. I came up with my friend, the lady Shannon, from Shambhala, where we were busy slinging shisha and chai at the Oasis Shisha Lounge. We made the trek up here in Shannon's van, stopping at the half-way hot springs outside of Nakusp, and then the Bob Inn near Williams Lake, for the yearly Bob Inn Daze. So, it was quite the wonderful adventure getting up here (including the choice cabin on the ferry ride here - that was a score).

So, now I find myself surrounded by bionicles and cardboard and other crafting materials. We're just getting started on pulling together the story board and puppets. We've got two weeks to make two movies: one on Yaanee Ku'kaa and another about the golden spruce... I'm also hoping to catch Jaalen and Gwaai's play while I'm up here, not to mention any number of other festivities.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Trip up to Haida Gwaii?

I've been in touch with Jusquan about making a trip back up to Masset to work on another two Haidawood movies. One to make a movie version of a story that was told on the CBC radio program Legends, and another a story about carving a totem pole. I'm hoping to make it up there for the end of August. Jaalen and Gwaai will be performing their play, Sinxii’gangu, at Kaay Llnagaay, the Haida Heritage Centre in Skidegate on August 23rd. I hoping to be able to catch the play while I am up there.

Thursday, July 17, 2008


Well, a lot has happened since my last post. First off, in April, "Hoopla!" was chosen to be in the winner's circle at Isuma TV. You can read a short review called "What's All the Hoopla About?" here.

I also recently submitted "Hoopla!" to the Winnipeg Aboriginal Film Festival. The festival is scheduled for Nov. 19-23.

And, Jusquan and I are having a conversation about me returning to Haida Gwaii at the end of August to work on a whole set of movies. We're still in discussion, so we'll have to see what comes of that. I'd like to get back to the islands and make a few more stopmotion movies. I've also gotten interested in making some muppets, and I think that would make for a fun and quick alternative to stop motion.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Hoopla! on Isuma TV

I've uploaded Hoopla! and Haida Raid and Teen Night on Isuma TV. Hopefully this will help get the word out about the project, and maybe help us find some partners who might be interested in next-leveling the project.

Isuma is a new web site featuring a whole range of movies made by First Nations people from around the world. In their own words:

" is an internet video portal for indigenous filmmakers, with unique indigenous-language content available 24/7. Our goal is to help films and filmmakers reach a wider audience; help audiences see themselves in their own languages; help communities connect around common concerns; and help worldwide viewers see indigenous reality from its own point of view. is a FREE service to filmmakers and viewers: a serious, professional, high-quality space to post your films on the internet, in a respectful user-friendly context. is a neutral viewing service only, not a seller or distributor. Filmmakers own their films and upload whatever they want; viewers watch but can't download; to buy a DVD you're directed to the email or web address of the filmmakers or their distributors.

The success of depends on filmmakers using it to serve their own needs, within a powerful collective consciousness, to build a growing audience for indigenous productions, especially in remote communities."

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Hoopla! on YouTube

Hoopla! is finally up on YouTube! Tell your friends!

Workshop with Erik the Red

Yesterday I attended a "getting started in film" workshop with Erik Paulsson, of Red Storm Productions. The workshop was very informative, and I learned a lot of useful information about producing documentaries and feature films. I was especially interested in some of Erik's comments about viral marketing.

I've been in touch with Gwaai and Jaalen, and we all agree that it would be worthwhile to release Hoopla out on YouTube. We need to get the word out there, and find ways to connect with relevant partners in order to make the project self-sustaining.