RBC publishes feature about As the Smoke Rises by Jennifer Ille, Sharon Heigl in recognition of Orange Shirt Day

Elder Viviane Rose Sandy / Link to RBC

In recognition of Orange Shirt Day, RBC’s online platform Discover & Learn has published As the Smoke Rises, a story of healing and strengtha feature about the NSI IndigiDocs film by Jennifer Ille and Sharon Heigl.

RBC strongly feels that Indigenous voices and stories need to be heard and is committed to profiling storytellers who have created stories related to the Residential School system and the reconciliation journey.

Jennifer and Sharon both grew up away from their Indigenous culture and were on journeys to reconnect with their Indigenous roots. It was through this journey they found their way to the NSI IndigiDocs program, and how Jennifer came to learn about smudging.

In their film As the Smoke Rises, Elder Viviane Rose Sandy from Williams Lake Band tells her personal story of how she was taken from her culture after being sent to Residential School and how her life took a turn after being reunited with her traditions.

Viviane expresses how smudging has had a positive impact in her everyday life and how it can help others. After going to Residential School, she lost her culture and turned to alcohol to cope with the mental and physical abuse. At 14 she was discharged from school and made it as far as Mexico. Being overwhelmed and not knowing how to deal with the traumatic events and abuse, she was on the verge of ending her own life.

Then one day a significant change happened: a friend introduced her to an Indigenous medicine person who would bring her back to the sweat lodge for the first time since her childhood. After being “reborn,” as she calls it, she was able to reconnect with the culture and traditions that had been taken away from her.

The annual Orange Shirt Day today (September 30) opens the door to global conversation on all aspects of Residential School. It is an opportunity to create meaningful discussion about the effect of Residential Schools and the legacy they left behind.

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NSI IndigiDocs is funded by Program Partners APTN, Manitoba Sport, Culture and Heritage, RBC Emerging Artists Project; Indigenous Training Programs Partner Directors Guild of Canada (DGC); Boot Camp Presenting Sponsor Manitoba Film & Music; Strategic Sponsor documentary Channel; Supporting Sponsors Telefilm Canada, Super Channel, CBC GemCorus Entertainment, A&E Television Networks; Provincial Sponsors Manitoba Film & Music, Creative Saskatchewan, Saskatchewan Media Production Industry Association (SMPIA), Northwest Territories Film Commission, Creative BC through the Daryl Duke and William Vince Scholarship Fund; Industry Partner the National Film Board of Canada; Industry Supporters imagineNATIVE Film & Media Arts Festival, Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival, Service Sponsors Line 21 Media, iSplice Films. NSI Core Funders are Manitoba Sport, Culture and Heritage and the City of Winnipeg through the Winnipeg Arts Council.

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