This profile was prepared when Manon Barbeau was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2009.
The New Idea
Oral traditions and story-telling are fundamental aspects of aboriginal cultures that have always been critical in establishing strong inter-generational links in communities. Manon’s initiative is creating a new way for the youth to recover this important tradition through modern applications of film and music production. The movies, written and produced by youth, become tools to open hidden societal wounds, rebuild inter-generational relationships and bring back hope and pride to a hurt society. Mobile and permanent film studios managed by the local population living in Native Reserves become the focal place in aboriginal communities serving as a space to transfer knowledge and express worldviews. Manon’s filmmaking process has been transformative for youth as well as entire communities, teaching young people to become more cooperative, efficient, professional, and enterprising, while also endowing them with self confidence, reliance and hope. The films initiate dialogue within all levels of society, facilitating renewal and revitalization in social exchanges, particularly through the reconciliation of aboriginal youths’ contemporary and ancestral cultures. Films that have been produced within Manon’s initiative have been distributed to international festivals, bringing the aboriginal community’s realities to the forefront of Canadian and international societies. Various indigenous groups around the world have been inspired by Manon’s work, and are implementing her methodology in their own countries to create a global exchange of stories and histories.