The Canoe Culture Program aims to share the created works both in-person and virtually, using photography and video whenever possible to produce records of works created and increase the number of people who can learn from these important works.
Currently there are 3 documentaries that feature works created at Canoe Cultures:
About the Documentary:
Dugout canoe racing was one of the few traditions that was not interfered with during the colonization of North America. Consequently, this holds a very special place amongst First Nations people in Coast Salish territory as the races have served as a conduit for passing down culture and tradition. 7th generation Squamish Nation canoe carver Mike Billy Sr. carves a dugout canoe with his son and nephews at the Canoe Cultures program in Vancouver, B.C. This knowledge keeper shares the skills that were passed on to him with future generations of dugout war canoe builders.
This project was supported by The Canada Council for the Arts, Squamish Nation, City of Vancouver Cultural Services, BC Arts Council, Concord Pacific and Western Canada Community Projects Society.
The film has been on an international film festival tour playing in Sweden, Turkey, Germany, Argentina, USA, Canada, Serbia, Armenia and Russia. A recent highlight was the award for Best Documentary at the Black Rock City Film Festival in the USA.
The film is available for private/institutional screenings.
Canoe Connections is the directorial debut of Reeva Billy. In this film she interviews her father and brother (Mike Billy Sr. and Mike Billy Jr.) about the history of First Nations canoe racing from the latter years of the of the residential school-era to present day. With paddling careers spanning more than 50 years between them, both men see themselves as temporary caregivers of the sport, embracing it in the present and planning to hand it on to future generations.
The film is currently in its final editing stage before release with a goal of participating in film festivals worldwide.
Embers of Resilience
Embers of Resilience is a captivating and poignant documentary that follows the inspiring journey of Canoe Carver Dickie Louis and his family as they strive to restore a lost tradition and revive their cultural heritage. Placed in a Residential School where attempts were made to erase his cultural identity, Dickie’s grandfather rescued him and introduced him to the profound importance of paddling canoes—a practice that would become a lifeline in reconnecting him with his people’s roots. The film explores the devastating longhouse fire that deprived the Musqueam Nation of their canoes, leaving a void in their collective identity. With unwavering determination, Dickie, together with his son Kelly, grandson Henry, and a dedicated team of volunteers, embarks on the painstaking journey of building a dugout canoe, weaving their personal stories with the broader narrative of cultural revitalization. Embers of Resilience is a testament to the power of heritage, family bonds, and the healing that comes from reclaiming and preserving one’s cultural legacy.