In filmmaking, there is a long history of people being mistreated, misunderstood, unwelcome or not involved. These oppressions and inequalities happen in an unnoticed way, but demand to be challenged and changed in order for all people to be safe and comfortable when being a part of research and film.
We want to recognize that many communities are often left out of research and filmmaking, exhausted by it, or generally worried about being involved. On the other hand, many communities who benefit most from society find it easier to be involved, because there is less pressure for a lot of reasons (i.e., they may have more free time, or money, or less commitment, or less at stake).
That is why we understand that the people involved in this project will not be able to fit into a ‘one size fits all’ box. We (participants, community members, facilitators, etc.) are people who have multiple identities and who face multiple struggles. To recognize this intersectionality is to recognize that we must rethink the way research and filmmaking has been done to make it accessible and anti-oppressive to as many people as possible.
The ways we are doing this are:
- Decolonizing our research/filmmaking methods:
Research and video comes from a long background of ‘collecting’ and ‘observing’ people, especially done by people with power. These people were also those who, in the history of Turtle Island, took away the land of and allowed genocide to happen to some of the people they were observing.
Decolonizing research and filmmaking methods is the act of recognizing the space and history we come from and are part of, and putting methods into place to help change that system. For example, in the film we use indigenous and treaty names of places instead of current, colonized names (i.e., Kitchener), in order to recognize the land our film and our project takes place on. We will learn what land we are on and recognize it at the beginning of sessions and spaces we hold.
We are also holding ourselves to a standard to learn about what is respectful, learning history of the land, respecting the earth, and knowing how to best approach and be a part of indigenous and settler communities in a way that does not uphold the systems that harm people.
We understand that our way of knowing is not the correct or the only way of knowing. Respecting indigenous knowledge and moving away from just using ‘scientific’ ways of knowing is how, as Linda Tuhiwai Smith says in Decolonizing Methodologies, you ‘get the story right and tell the story well’*. We hope that the film is representative of this, and encourage folks to tell their stories in the way they feel the most comfortable, whether that be in their own language, or in an art piece we record, through their own movies, or talking about what they wish to during focus groups and sessions.
We also understand that we will not be %100 perfect. We welcome suggestions to make our project better than it is. Email us at email@example.com.
- Twisting around the system:
We want you to know that we will not hold up the unequal structures that might harm the people in the collective, ourselves included. We work against inequalities that help oppression happen, like sexism, racism, poverty, ableism (discrimination against folks with disabilities), and more. This means understanding that not all of those systems are directly seen. Often they happen without people noticing, built into our homes, our cities, and our societies. In research and filmmaking, sometimes people are erased, hurt or ignored because they cannot access the space or the space is not safe for them.
Therefore, we strive to meet people where they are at. We met many participants in places they would be comfortable, with options to bring people, to have bus tickets, and more. We want to recruit people from various places and experience, who might face various inequalities that limit them from participating.
One email or poster call out was not going to cut it, especially because a lot of times people might not have good access to internet, computers, or email. To recruit, we called people instead of emailing, or went to community centres, shelters, youth centres, protests, rallies, occupations, etc to just talk to folks and get the word out. We provided payment for people because we understood there are lots of reasons youth can’t participate, jobs and money being one of them.
Part of being anti-oppressive is being transparent, recognizing who we are and where we come from and respecting the ways that communities do their own thing.
This documentary started as a research project for which we received ethics clearance at the University of Waterloo. This means that the main facilitator, Rebeccah Redden had training that make sure the process of making the film was ethical and all the sessions we offer fit into an ethical criteria. This project through the university is now over, and the film is the result, but our own organizational ethical mandate is still in effect
Learn more in our safety section or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
* Find out more info about the book Decolonizing methodologies and the author Linda Tuhiwai Smith here: http://www.zedbooks.co.uk/node/20909