Even as the COVID-19 pandemic rages, a small, diverse group of youths from around Terrace take to their screens every week to learn about editing software, filming techniques and visual storytelling.
Armed with technological prowess and poetry, these youths are gearing to make films that give a peek into their worlds.
Hosted by the Skeena Diversity Society and run virtually by Vancouver-based Reel Youth, the My World filmmaking program is almost halfway through its six sessions.
The free sessions held twice a week, are helping youths express themselves, said Saša Loggin, project director, Skeena Diversity Society.
Loggin, who has been attending the sessions herself, said the filmmaking program is an attempt to help an individual creatively showcase their background, history and culture.
“It’s a chance to look at where we’re coming from, our hopes and dreams for the future.”
According to Loggin, the theme of the program fits in with what the Skeena Diversity Society believes in – creating space for diverse voices.
The society marked its 20th anniversary last year and it started out as a group of people addressing racism in the community.
A provincial program aimed at anti-racism and celebrating diversity and inclusion has provided the money for the program.
The youths participating in the program hail from Terrace and its neighbouring First Nations as well as from other northwest communities. Some registrations have come from outside the region too, said Loggin.
Mariam Barry, one of the program facilitators from Reel Youth who conducts these sessions along with her colleague Zain Burgess, said that the mandate is to elevate voices through stories.
“We created a poetry template for young and marginalized people to step in and tell their story,” said Barry.
While the COVID-19 pandemic meant pivoting their programs online, the youths have embraced online learning and have been enthusiastic about learning about professional editing software, she said.
Barry and Burgess go through the footage that the participants have shot and advise them on techniques and aesthetics.
“The fact that they consistently deliver is amazing,” said Barry whose organization works with youths across the globe.
Loggin hopes to host more filmmaking programs in Terrace.
“We want to encourage people to submit their videos and share their stories,” said Loggin.
It’s not just about creating short films but also about people hearing out each others’ stories and the different views that they have to share, she added.
“It’s really a way to bridge differences and create a community that is inclusive.”