On January 22, 2016, a student at La Loche Dene Community Secondary School murdered two boys in a house before going to school, killing two staff and wounding seven others by shooting them.
The school counselor, Virginia Baby, was already taking care of the
group of men, which brought together teenagers who needed extra help to succeed in high school. In her efforts to help these young people, she organized nature outings.
The group was already planning the canoe trip when tragedy struck. After this tragic event, Virginia Baby wanted to do something more for the eight boys who are still members of the group. I turned to Les Stroud, outdoor survival expert known for his TV series Survivor, human. The director agreed to accompany them.
Sixteen months after the tragedy, in May 2017, the Indigenous boys, teachers and senior citizen Lee Stroud embark on a canoeing adventure that would become more than a normal teenage trip.
Les Stroud, then an ambassador for the Canadian Scouts, went on hundreds of outdoor outings with young people. But when he arrived by floatplane in this small northern Saskatchewan community, he immediately realized that this time would be different.
It was enough to look around me to see what was happening and say to myself, “Am I ready? Because this time, it will not be simple: it will be emotional and spiritual, and it will have repercussions, says Les Stroud.
He arrived without a specific plan or crew to film. It was just him, boys, teachers, elders and a few cameras with which the teenagers could film whatever they wanted.
During these 10 days, says Lees Stroud, he witnessed the transformation of the young participants.
You can see their journey in the film, from their disrespect for tobacco ceremonies, from start to finish, when they say, ‘I’m leaving, I’m moving, I’m going to do something’, which is unbelievable. .
Alex Mendes was teaching these children at the time. He took this trip by boat and remembers that the teenagers were still reeling from the tragedy when they embarked on this journey.
For many it was still difficult, and you can see it in the film, He said.
He says the group received basic training from paddle Canada Several months before the trip, however, the youngsters weren’t quite ready for the adventure.
Lloyd, le temps n’était pas beau, c'était difficile de pagayer. Ces enfants n’étaient pas physiquement actifs sur une base régulière, raconte-t-il. On avait froid. On était mouillés. Les vagues frappaient le canot. On était presque en train de renverser. Et là, ils ont vraiment frappé un mur.","text":"Nous tentions de traverser le lac Lloyd, le temps n’était pas beau, c'était difficile de pagayer. Ces enfants n’étaient pas physiquement actifs sur une base régulière, raconte-t-il. On avait froid. On était mouillés. Les vagues frappaient le canot. On était presque en train de renverser. Et là, ils ont vraiment frappé un mur."}}">We were trying to cross the lake LloydThe weather was not good, it was difficult to paddle. He says these children were not regularly physically active. We were cold. We were wet. The waves were hitting the boat. We were about to overthrow. And there, they actually hit a wall.
But they persevered and worked hard throughout this difficult day, which gave them confidence. The next day they were singing while rowing.
In the film, the young people end up opening up: they talk about their family and this disastrous day of January 22, 2016.
The Strouds were shocked by their words and their experience.
They painted us a 3D picture of what happened telling us where they were when it happened. It was terrifying, He said.
Al Strouds, Barbara Pepe and Alize Mendes saw how nature helped these boys. Their emotions come to the surface when they talk about it.
For Alex Mendes, while this trip was a defining moment for these young people, it was also an agent of change for the school, which subsequently set up an outdoor educational program.
Most of the young men in the group have finished high school, but some still struggle. None of them wanted to comment on this article. Barbara Pepe, who remains in contact with them, says she is proud of the progress they have made.
As for Lee Stroud, he says the trip reminded him of the importance of nature.
There is a natural world that exists every day and is waiting to help heal our wounds.
This documentary is called Lake Available on YouTube since January 14.
With information from Florence Hwang