Art and cinema help to heal an artist after family trauma from the residential school system. Her documentary is Lana Gets Her Talk delves into the artistic world of Lana Whiskeyjack the multidisciplinary artist out of the Saddle Lake Cree Nation.
The residential school system harmed Indigenous children significantly by removing them from their families, depriving them of their ancestral languages, exposing many of them to physical and sexual abuse, and forcibly enfranchising them.Disconnected from their families and culture and forced to speak English or French, students who attended the residential school system often graduated unable to fit into either their communities
Lana Gets Her Talk focuses on her work while completing a mixed media sculpture of her uncle's face titled Losing My Talk but ends up being much more. The piece opens up a conversation about the healing process from her life as the daughter of a residential school survivor.
Residential schools were federally run, under the Department of Indian Affairs.Attendance was mandatory for children in the many communities that didn't have day schools.Agents were employed by the government to ensure all native children attended school.
The piece ends up becoming about recovering identity, a lost voice, and dignity. The film's director Beth Wishart Mackenzie says "She (Lana) uses it as a teaching piece to talk about the history of the residential schools and ways of healing, and how she herself uses art as her own ceremony and way of healing from the challenges that she has faced as the child of a survivor and as a woman in modern society, the film is a short study of an artist and her work but layered into that is a whole examination of this troubling chapter of our history."
The premiere held recently was co-presented by the Reconciliation Focus film series and the Dreamspeakers Film Festival at the Metro Cinema.
Beth Wishart MacKenzie