"Third world" is not a description commonly associated with living conditions in Canada. Yet it is a term being used by an award-winning Canadian filmmaker in her examination of Canadians struggling to survive life in squalid conditions in remote northern Aboriginal communities.
On Wednesday June 22, Gemini-nominee Andrée Cazabon will screen her acclaimed film, 3rd World Canada, as a part of the Community-Based Health Research Summer Institute: "Weaving the Tapestry" running June 20-24 in Regina.
The powerful film is set in the Ontario community of Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug - KI - (the people of the lake) and documents the lives of eight children and their community who are left behind to piece together the aftermath of a suicide and the legacy of impoverished third world conditions.
In her film, Cazabon passionately argues for the empowerment of Aboriginal people to participate in and create the solutions to their community problems - such as suicide, poverty and drug abuse. "We still have some of those old remnants of racist policy that are hard to shake," said Cazabon. "So often we see the problem, not the people."
Cazabon describes herself on her first visit to KI as an "obsessive problem solver, which is typical of an outsider being faced with third world conditions in your own country. You're trying to make sense of it. Let me help you guys find solutions for this."
After a few visits however, she decided to try the opposite approach and just listen. "When I started doing that as opposed to showing up with this quest to find solutions, I started hearing the solutions that were coming from the community around drugs, suicide and housing. They know what they want, they just aren't given the permission to determine their own destiny and that is a paralyzing place to be."
Learning how to engage with community on solving problems is a crucial area of study for researchers participating in the Summer Institute this week. Leading experts and community practitioners will cover a range of topics from developing partnerships to research methods and information management, as well as hearing from keynote speakers such as Cazabon about their experiences.
"We are pleased to be collaborating on this important initiative to share our community-based research and to promote the importance of conducting health research that is guided and directed by the needs of communities," said Bonnie Jeffery, director of the Saskatchewan Population Health Evaluation Research Unit (SPHERU).
Weaving the Tapestry is being hosted by SPHERU, the Indigenous Peoples' Health Research Centre (IPHRC) and the Prairie HIV Community-Based Research Program.
Cazabon's film, 3rd World Canada, will be screened at the Albert Scott Community Centre at 1264 Athol Street, Regina. Doors open at 6:30pm and admission is free.