Walk-A-Mile Film Project at the Friendship Centre
Jesse Bonello - Staff Writer
Many Sioux Lookout residents experienced an all-day educational program called the Walk-A-Mile Film Project at the Nishnawbe-Gamik Friendship Centre on April 17.
The Walk-A-Mile Film Project premiered on Feb. 6, 2014 in Thunder Bay. It’s a series of five short documentary films designed to educate and encourage frank conversations about the reality of the life and history of Aboriginal peoples in both Sioux Lookout and across Canada.
“We took the training and found it very valuable and eye-opening. We’ve tried to bring it back to the community, and we’ve done presentations in schools, but this is the first time that we’ve done the full program for service providers,” explained Candi Edwards, Aboriginal healthy babies and healthy children worker for Ontario Native Women’s Association.
The Walk-A-Mile program came from Thunder Bay. The municipality of Thunder Bay received complaints about how their employees were interacting with Indigenous people in the community, so they mandated staff training for every person employed by the city.
When asked about the program coverage, Edwards explained, “The program covers residential schools and inter-generational trauma, racism, missing and murdered Indigenous women, and the last section of the program is called the way forward. It focuses on what people, communities, and workplaces can do to improve relationships with Indigenous people and reconciliation.”
Both Edwards and her colleague Cynthia Phillips, a sexual assault worker for the Ontario Native Women’s Association, were happy with the group that took part in Walk-A-Mile at the Friendship Centre, and they were impressed with the feedback they received.
“It’s a very engaged group that’s committed to recognizing what’s happening in our communities and ways that they can contribute to a more positive, and less divided, community. Several commented that they would like to see this program in more workplaces in Sioux Lookout,” said Phillips.
Both Phillips and Edwards consider the program valuable, and they think communities would benefit from the improved understanding that the program provides.
“What Walk-A-Mile does is refocus on how we can promote healing and move forward. So, people generally come out of it with a better understanding…I think it’s one of the best ways that you can spend about six hours.
“It’s very valuable, and it gives a lot of perspective on some of the social issues that we see in our communities,” Edwards concluded.