One of the most memorable Awareness Film Nights occurred in February 2014 when the evening was devoted to telling the story of residential schools in B.C.
The night went long past closing time and featured a film and powerful talks by residential school survivors telling what they had undergone both during and after their residential school experiences. Among the speakers was Carey Newman introducing his new project, the Witness Blanket.
Fast forward to October 2018 and Newman’s film about the making of that blanket called Picking Up the Pieces: The Making of the Witness Blanket premiered at the Vancouver International Film Festival to sold-out audiences.
On Dec. 12 Awareness Film Night brings the film and Newman to Sooke.
Newman, a filmmaker and master carver, created the Witness Blanket over several years by weaving together more than 800 found items from old residential school buildings, churches and other cultural structures across Canada, including shoes, bricks, photos and even a door, to create “a national monument to recognize the atrocities of the Indian residential school era.”
The result is a quilt 12 metres long of beautifully carved and thoughtfully placed wooden panels, home to memories that “individually … are paragraphs of a disappearing narrative (but) together they are strong, collectively able to recount for future generations the true story of loss, strength, reconciliation and pride.”
In this moving film. Newman seamlessly weaves the two stories together with his same artist’s eye; the story of the making of the Witness Blanket and the more poignant story of the residential school legacy as borne by survivors and their families.
As the post-screening speaker, Newman will return to Sooke, where he grew up and where his parents, Victor and Edith Newman, are well known as artists and key partners in the Sooke Reconciliation Group.
The screening is at the Edward Milne community school theatre, beginning at 7 p.m. Admission is by donation.
Moviegoers are also asked to bring a a food item for the EMCS students’ 10,000 Tonight food bank drive held on the same night.