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Pathfinders Film Institute empowers Indigenous youth through filmmaking

In the face of challenges, including tight schedules and limited resources, Chief Gabriel Cote Education Complex students demonstrated resilience and adaptability.

COTE FIRST NATION — From April 30 to May 3, the Chief Gabriel Cote Education Complex became a hub of creativity as the Pathfinders Film Institute, led by Julien Black Antelope, ventured into the heart of Indigenous education.

Amidst the tranquil backdrop of learning, students were not merely spectators but active participants, crafting two powerful Public Service Announcements (PSAs) under Black Antelope's guidance.

Reflecting on the experience, Black Antelope shared, "The students were keen to learn. Sometimes they need a little bit of prying off their seats, but once they dive into it, they're there for the most part."

The project aimed to empower students to find their voices through filmmaking. One student, Laverne Cote, expressed, "I just filled in for anything. If someone didn't want to do something, I did it."

Even amid nervousness, students embraced diverse roles. Vivian Badger-Cote, who played the role of an assistant director, shared, "I felt nervous the whole time. My legs were pretty much shaking. That was mostly when I was interviewing the chief."

The experience was not limited to in-front-of-camera roles. Cassious Cadotte, who worked on sound, reflected on the weighty responsibilities, saying, "The equipment's heavy, the boom gets heavy after a little while."

For many students, the journey was transformative. Lavern Kakakaway, who stood in front of the camera as an actor, admitted, "I'd rather be behind the camera. I prefer being behind the camera. I’m sort of just nervous in front of the cameras. That happens to everybody."

Daniel Cote, who directed his fellow peers, had nothing but good things to say about them, “I would like to thank the great work done by my team, it couldn’t have been done without them!”

Black Antelope emphasized the importance of creating a safe space for experimentation. "I like to make somebody feel comfortable enough to at least try something," he said. "That's the responsibility of anybody in a position of experience."

In the face of challenges, including tight schedules and limited resources, the students demonstrated resilience and adaptability. Black Antelope praised their ability to think on their feet, stating, "They all adapted and rolled with it. I think maybe for a couple of them, when they think it's break time, and it's like, you might have to pass on that break there, boys and girls, and we’ve got to keep trucking through."

Despite the demands on his schedule as an actor and producer, Black Antelope remains committed to nurturing young talent with Pathfinders Film Insitute. "I'll always find time to put it into my schedule," he affirmed. "If that means that I sacrifice sleep, which is what I do, I do it because this is what I enjoy."

As the PSAs come to fruition, they will not only serve as educational tools but as testaments to the creativity, resilience, and potential of indigenous youth. Through filmmaking, these students are not just telling stories; they are shaping narratives, empowering their communities, and paving the way for a brighter future.