By Roy L Hales
According to Volunteer and Fundraising co-ordinator Odette Auger, Deep Roots is important because it is “local, regionally based spoken word programming.” Steering Committee leader David Rousseau says, “it builds capacity and connection around Cortes Radio.” Senior producer Greg Osaba explains, “Deep Roots is both a skill building and story telling exercise to generate original stories from people who have something to say.” To which Klahoose co-ordinator Jacqueline Mathieu adds, “The stories that are going to be developed really do need to be told.” They were talking about Cortes Radio’s premiere documentary series. The station will soon be launching Deep Roots second season.
(The podcast above contains much more detail.)
A Deeper Voice
“This project is an outreach of the radio society to bring radio into the community in a much deeper way. After all, Cortes is something that we invented here on Cortes Island and it is our voice. The question is, who’s voice is it? It has been the voice of those who step up. This is really an outreach program. It is going out into the community and saying, look we want to go much further and much deeper. We would like this radio station to be the voice of people who have stories to tell: the voice of Klahoose, the voice of people who are opening up to writing in a new way,” says Rousseau.
He added, “It has a much bigger piece than just a story telling project. It has this role of doing something for Cortes Radio which is really exactly what community radio is all about.”
The Deep Roots project originated a year and a half ago, with a proposal that Rousseau, then Vice-President of Cortes Radio, and Auger sent the Community Radio Fund of Canada (CRFC).
“The idea was to take contemporary environmental issues and look at them through the lens of traditional knowledge and culture,” says Rousseau.
The First Season
Ten story producers were recruited for the first season. They were trained by former CBC producer Rob Selmanovic. Former radio news reporter Greg Osaba provided the project’s oversight.
“We had a wide range of people’s skill levels. Some were complete neophytes to making documentaries and it was a tall order. Each documentary was to be thirty minutes, which takes a lot of work to fill and to do well. I was extremely proud of all the efforts because, while they ranged in quality, there was tremendous capacity building: people learning interview skills, people learning broadcasting skills, how to present stories. There was an incredible spectrum of age, from teenagers right up to seniors,” says Osaba.
One of the three clips discussed in the podcast above is part of the documentary ”Who Speaks for Brother Wolf?” produced by (then) fifteen-year-old Natalia Nybida.
“She had this idea to go back to all the correspondents that she had worked with, to make her story, and ask them what would you have to say to brother wolf? – and what comes out is really profound, I think it just wraps the piece up,” says Rousseau.
“There was so much synchronicity going on when Natalia, my daughter … wrote that story and even today as we’re getting ready for the interview – oh, we’re going to listen to that clip during the interview and it happens to be the wolf moon, this full moon. And my younger daughter, Sophia, was walking her dog today and she just followed some wolf tracks up to a den and saw some active digging, as the soil was on top of snow … She was glowing; she was so excited; she had met our neighbour. We knew they were there,” says Auger.
In their review of a clip from “Finding Gilean Douglas & The Protected Place,” Rousseau, Osaba and Auger discussed the impact Cortes Island’s best known ecological philosopher had on their lives.
“Secrets Of The Cedar Weavers” follows the history of a hat to show how this tradition continues today.
“UBC museum of Anthropology, this month, has invited a Salish master weaver to come and put on a demo and discuss and the title was “Reawakening the Ancient Salish Cedar Weaving” and it’s great, but I kind of chuckled to myself because I thought you could go to Klahoose when some of the ladies are in the main room there. People are walking in and they are weaving ..,” said Auger.
(Access all 10 podcasts through drop boxes under the Deep Roots Initiative tab on the Cortes Radio website.)
Deep Roots Second Season
“The thing we learned from the first year, is that the connection between the stories and the First Nations legends and traditional knowledge and culture was not really strong enough …, “says Rousseau.
“ … We have really embraced Klahoose as a full partner … Rather than having individual producers come forward with ideas that they generated then try to find First Nations or indigenous resources to help tell the story, we have a Klahoose co-ordinator and she has gone within her own community and sought out story ideas, sought themes that she knows members of her community want to tell …,” says Osaba.
“My main mandate is to ensure that every story has a Klahoose voice in it and that every story is told in a good way, is received in a good way and everyone feels good about what they are sharing,” adds Mathieu.
“ … Through my language revitalization work, I found some archived cassette tapes of my grandpa speaking, so I would like to record my aunties listening to those recordings and see what comes about with that. Places travelled: different I.R.s (Indian Reservations) that my community has and what we did in those places is important to stake claim on our traditional territory.”
“One more story that I am really excited about, that is more of our pilot project, is the coming of age story where I get to interview my mom, my brother, my sister and my nephew that participated in coming of age. That tradition is such a big part of our lives that [I’m] really feeling honoured to her that…”
Mathieu is helping Deep Roots producers develop their projects through story circles.
“I loved them. They are so layered and interesting and the one that Greg and I were both at comes to mind. There were moments of goose bumps, several times throughout, just the way the writers were coming from a place of genuinely wanting to connect,” said Auger, who is one of Deep Roots’ producers as well as a co-ordinator.
They are currently working on about ten themes. The first Deep Roots episodes are already in production and may soon be ready.
Top photo credit: Senior Deep Roots Producer Greg Osaba with Greg Osoba, senior producer and Natalia Nybida, producer of “Who Speaks For Brother Wolf” – courtesy Odette Auger.