Stolen Hearts is stealing hearts

Stolen Hearts director Patricia Dawn, right, takes a break between interviewing for filming this week at Pine Lodge Farm to embrace one of the subjects of the documentary that’s due to premiere in the fall. - Kurt Knock
Stolen Hearts director Patricia Dawn, right, takes a break between interviewing for filming this week at Pine Lodge Farm to embrace one of the subjects of the documentary that’s due to premiere in the fall.
— image credit: Kurt Knock

Working from ground level as a grassroots film project isn’t such a bad thing.

Especially when people from every corner of the community are popping up to chip in.

Stolen Hearts director Patricia Dawn recounted Wednesday the many folks who’ve came forward to help purely out of their own passion for the documentary currently being shot in Cowichan.

Filming for Stolen Hearts began Sunday and addresses the statistical story that the number of Cowichan kids in foster care is well above B.C.’s average.

The filmmakers are probing the personal and cultural fallout of kids being removed from their homes and raised by people other than their parents. A first cut is expected to be shown at Cowichan’s Aboriginal Film Festival April 22.

“We’re filming this morning and going out in the helicopter,” said Dawn. “We’re getting aerial footage of the valley.”

Most of the filming for Stolen Hearts has taken place at executive producers Bernie and Marlene Willock’s 29-acre Pine Lodge Farm in Mill Bay.

“The project itself seems to have a soul of its own,” said Dawn. “When people become aware of the work we’re doing they seem to be attracted and want to help.”

She was quite enthused to have acclaimed Aboriginal film maker Cowboy Smithx from the Piikani and Kainai Tribes of the Blackfoot Confederacy join the project with his film crew.

“We approached him in January and he came on board right away,” Dawn said. “He’s participated in our Aboriginal Film Festival and done workshops here. He’s aware of our community and he’s worked in our community before. He’s very much interested in the issues as it affects his community as well,” she said.

Dr. Graham Blackburn is also one of the documentary’s executive producers.

“And his heart’s really in the centre of the project,” Dawn said.

Many others have also joined, including Cowichan midwife Selina Boily of the Matraea Centre and Duncan photographer Kurt Knock, while Maeve Maguire, Gill Polard and Dan Cutler have joined the social media team.

Filming will continue as contributions come in, Dawn indicated, noting $8,000 was raised at a special invite event in January, where she presented the project to the community. Filmmakers have already interviewed retired social workers, teachers and Aboriginal women and elders and are now looking for a lawyer.

“There’s no villain. There’s no bad guy. It’s not black and white,” said Dawn. “It’s very multi-layered.”

2010 Ministry data about children in care between birth and age 18, show 17.1 per 1,000 in Cowichan, and 9.2 in Lake Cowichan, compared to B.C.’s average of 9.2 kids in care. But figures for children in need of protection were more telling: 19.9 per 1,000 in Cowichan, and 23.9 in Lake Cowichan, versus B.C.’s 6.7 average.

“What we’re all doing together is recognizing how dysfunctional our system is,” she said.  “We’re seeing it together, that trauma that touches everyone.”

Dawn estimates filming should wrap in June and a premiere will be scheduled in the fall.

For more information on the documentary, click here or visit its Facebook page here.
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