The Sharing Circle - Season 16


Spirituality Seekers
For centuries, Celtic tribes lived among the Alps in the region now known as Germany and Austria. These people lived off the land, and maintained a strong spiritual connection to the earth, in many ways similar to Canada's First Nation's people. But a thousand years ago, everything changed when they conquered by the Holy Roman Empire, who forced them to change their ways and to conform to a 'civilized' way of life. Many perished, along with their culture and spiritual practices.

Today, with the teachings of their own ancestors long gone, a movement of German speaking people is attempting to regain that spiritual connection. Kurt Fenkart and his wife Christine are Shaman teachers on a mission to re-connect with their long lost spiritual roots. They're doing it by learning the sacred practices of other indigenous cultures, including those of Canada's First Nation's People. In this episode, they will travel to Canada for the first time, to embark on a journey to learn about aboriginal culture first hand.

Their goal is to share their knowledge with others interested in the culture when they return home, but not everyone is happy about it. Many elders feel that these kind of ceremonies can only be done on North American soil, and do not approve of transporting it to other parts of the world. Kurt and Christine are out to prove that if done with the right intentions, not only is it possible, but necessary to help keep these traditions alive for future generations.

Rising Son
Rising Son is the story of a young Ojibway man, Clarence Fisher who finds strength in his people's traditional ceremonies as a means to overcome his drug addiction and to make it in the film and TV industry.

In Season 15 of The Sharing Circle, viewers were introduced to Clarence Fisher, a young Ojibway man from Pic Mobert First Nation in Ontario. He is a recovering addict to the painkiller Oxycontin, a drug that is destroying the lives of many of the youth on his reserve. Pic Mobert's courageous Chief, Jeff Desmoulin, organized the Walk for Life as a means to tackle the problem of addiction head on by finding inspiration from his people's traditional ceremonies.

Clarence, along with many other youth, walked 1300 km to a sacred Sundance ceremony in Manitoba. Many of the youth joined the Sundance ceremony, and Clarence was the only one to complete the full four days. Inspired by his involvement in The Sharing Circle episode, and strengthened by his participation in his people's traditional ceremonies, Clarence dreams of a future in the film and TV industry. A year later he is accepted in the National Screen Institute's program for young aboriginal filmmakers and is soon interning at The Sharing Circle. Rising Son is an emotional and inspiring story that follows Clarence through his struggle to stare down his personal demons and turn his life around as he treads into unfamiliar territory.

The Asham Stompers
'THE ASHAM STOMPERS' - a half hour documentary that features the music and dance of the Metis people as showcased at the Asham Stompers' Festival.

In 2002, Arnold Asham formed the Asham Stompers, a Metis dance troupe dedicated to showcasing the Red River Jig and the music that drives it. The Stompers quickly established themselves as a showpiece for the Metis culture. When Arnold saw how well they were being received, he decided it was time to stage their very own festival. That was 4 years ago. Today the Asham Stompers Festival of Metis Music and Dance is an annual event held over the September long weekend in Reedy Creek Manitoba. It features a host of local, national and even international entertainers.

In this episode of the Sharing Circle, our cameras travel to Reedy Creek and take a front row seat for this engaging celebration of the Metis culture. We spend time behind the scenes with Arnold Asham and share in his quest to bring a first class production to the stage. We meet the people of Reedy Creek and learn about the impact the festival is having on their community. We take a close up look at the Stompers youngest dancer, Michael 'Slick' Harris and learn what drives this 7 year old phenom to dance.

Re-Learning Our Ways
In aboriginal schools and communities, there's a growing movement to re-connect young people to their traditional ways, inspiring pride in their heritage and self-confidence to meet the future.

There's a growing movement in aboriginal communities which seeks to re-connect young people with the traditional ways of their people as a central part of their education. This documentary visits three communities in Manitoba, where the youth are discovering their cultural identity, through the teachings of mentors and elders.

This new approach to education is giving schools and communities the chance to take young people back to their cultural roots. They're learning about land-based practices like hunting, trapping and surviving in the woods, as well as the traditions and stories of their people.

In the process, they're developing greater self-confidence and pride in who they are, so they can find success and fulfillment in whatever future awaits them. They're also learning respect for one another and for Mother Earth.

It's urgent that our young people receive these teachings now, because fewer elders are left who have traditional knowledge of the land and stories of their people. Still, though time may be running out, there are some who believe it's not too late for the next generation to re-learn our ways.

The Gold Rush
This documentary considers the issues associated with mining on First Nations land. By comparing the experiences of two Quebec First Nations - one already involved in mining, the other considering it - the program reveals the advantages and disadvantages of this sort of endeavour.

This documentary considers the issues attached to mining on First Nations land. It reviews both the opportunities and the drawbacks to this activity as it compares the experiences of two Quebec First Nations, one already involved in mining, the other considering it. It first takes us to the Cree Nation of Mistissini, which has had an open pit gold mine on its territory since the mid 90's. Quebec law requires any resource development on First Nations land to be a collaborative process, and this part of the program explores the background and execution of the agreement between Mistissini and the mining company. Next, the program takes us to the Cree Nation of Wemindji, which, like Mistissini, is blessed with abundant natural resources. It shows a nation poised on the brink of a decision: whether or not to enter into a collaboration agreement with a mining company. The perspectives of both advocates and critics of mining, and the people of Mistissini are expressed.

The stories of both nations reveal the impacts - both social and environmental - of mining, and illustrate the benefits and the drawbacks inherent in such an endeavour, and shows the difficult decisions First Nations must make in order to balance their need for economic development, with traditional values and protection of their environment.

Sharing Circle examines the multi-media approach to contemporary Aboriginal storytelling through the eyes of young actors enrolled in Arts Mentorship at the Manitoba Theatre for Young People in Winnipeg.

Singer/songwriter Buffy Sainte-Marie, actor Lorne Cardinal plus filmmakers Curtis Kaltenbaugh and Ervin Chartrand are profiled.

SEASON: 11, 12, 13, 14, 15

The Living Earth
The indigenous view of the Earth as a living, breathing entity may help save Lake Winnipeg, The Boreal Forest and ultimately the entire planet.

This is a current and critical subject of national and international importance. Lake Winnipeg, the Boreal Forest, global environment and the future of humanity are all ongoing matters of public interest and concern. Future media attention on these issues is almost certain.

As the world teeters on the brink of environmental collapse, this story examines people who respect the indigenous worldview that the Earth is our mother, the rivers lifeblood flowing in her veins, and the plants and animals our brothers and sisters. By looking at the world this way, these people help preserve the environment around them and across the planet, and therefore hold the key to humanity's survival.

Two-thirds of this story looks at Poplar River band member Sophia Rabliauskas and the effort her community is leading to protect a large part of the Boreal Forest in and around their traditional territory. Ms. Rabliauskas is a 2007 Goldman Environmental Award recipient. She has helped her Band prevent any damaging development to their land and is now spearheading an attempt to get the combined traditional territories of Poplar River and three other bands designated as a United Nations World Heritage Site.

While there has been and likely will continue to be considerable media attention surrounding this attempt to secure World Heritage status, Sophia Rabliauskas and the Poplar River First Nation chose the Sharing Circle as the show they trusted to tell their story.

No Room to Grow
Canada is a signator on international treaties on human rights, but housing its citizens has not been a national priority in over a decade, resulting in a growing homeless and homeless at risk population, especially in cities. Aboriginal people in Canada are disproptionately represented in this population.

"No Room to Grow" puts a face on some of those struggling to find and keep shelter in Vancouver and Winnipeg, two cities whose residents face specific obstacles. In Vancouver, the crisis is building as the city prepares to host the Olympics; the cost of home is going up, and more people are on the streets. In Winnipeg, hidden homelessness is rampant, and it's having increasing effects on families. Both cities have long waiting lists for social housing.

"No Room to Grow" is street-level in Vancouver as housing advocates and homeless organise marches, public forums and tent cities to increase local pressure on officials to act. In Winnipeg, families under housing pressure take us inside their homes, as they experience sudden evictions, crowded spaces and unsafe living conditions.

Amid a cross-country tour from the United Nations representative on housing, the comfort and security of home is revealed as powerful thing, without which we can't thrive in Canadian society.

Pauingassi: Portrait of Hope
Like many First Nations facing many social problems, Pauingassi First Nation receives considerable media attention that many band members feel is negative and distasteful. The most recent coverage splashed across newspapers and televisions concerned the drowning death of 7-year-old resident Adam Keeper in the summer of 2007, allegedly due to apparent bullying by three other boys around the same age.

This story goes behind those headlines by examining how this dry community copes with the serious consequences of widespread alcoholism. It reveals how band members from Pauingassi are looking for healing and strength by reconnecting to traditional ways that were once practiced by their ancestors. Half a century ago, it was the scourge of alcoholism and the advent of Christianity that helped silence the drums and rid the community of sacred objects and ceremonial practices. Today, it's a long road for the many community members who are fighting addictions, but by reviving old ways they are reconnecting with the Spirit of Pauingassi First Nation and with the source of their strength as a People.

Red Man in Blue
RED MAN IN BLUE is an inside look at the Winnipeg Police Service's Diversity Relations Section. In this half hour of The Sharing Circle, we meet Patrol Sergeant Cecil Sveinson.

Cecil doesn't fit our sterotype of the typical Winnipeg Police Service patrol sergeant. Born on the Poplar River First Nation on the North East edge of Lake Winnipeg - he was a child of the 60's scoop. Cecil grew up in Winnipeg's inner city with his adoptive family and in his youth, never even considered becoming a cop.

In this episode of The Sharing Circle, we also follow the service's latest recruit class through their Aboriginal cultural awareness training, we hear from spiritual advisors David Blacksmith and his wife Sheryl, we talk to Winnipeg's newly appointed Chief of Police Keith McCaskill and our cameras follow two general patrol officers on a typical night on the job.

Money For Healing?
How have people reacted to the residential school settlement agreement and what are recipients planning to do with their settlement payment

On September 19th, 2007, a landmark compensation deal came into effect for an estimated 80,000 former Indian residential school students who attended one of 130 schools across the country between 1920 and 1996. The agreement will provide nearly two billion dollars in "common experience payments" to former students (an average of $28,000 per student), with additional payments being made to survivors who suffered abuse, as well as funding for Aboriginal healing programs and commemorative projects. Residential school survivors who receive the settlement will forfeit their right to bring future claims against the government, the churches or any other defendant in the suit.

While this settlement agreement finally brings justice to those who suffered a long and painful journey through the residential school system, many survivors have different opinions on the degree to which this gesture redeems the actions of the perpetrators. The large sums of money being dispersed are sure to have a considerable impact on all the individual recipients and their communities. This settlement agreement will therefore open a new chapter with its own set of questions, challenges and opportunities.

We will set out to discover what recipients are planning to do with their settlement payments and how they reacted to the agreement in the first place. Were they satisfied with the settlement amount and the way the settlement agreement was negotiated? Are they approaching this episode with trepidation considering the awful truths that triggered the payments? We will also examine the programs that have been established to assist recipients and protect them against the threats of fraud and abuse.

Games of chance have forever been a part of Aboriginal culture and Sharing Circle examines the reigning champ of popular games - Bingo! Despite the fact that most people never win, bingo remains a popular pastime for First Nations people, especially in remote communities.

The history and cultural significance of the game is profiled as is one of Canada's largest radio bingos.

Did You Know?
This episode of The Sharing Circle explores some of the more outrageous and bizarre facts concerning the history of the relationship between Aboriginal Peoples and Canada, and how these have influenced the political, economic and social conditions of the country's First Peoples.

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