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Speakers for the Dead

2000 49 min
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This documentary reveals some of the hidden history of Blacks in Canada. In the 1930s in rural Ontario, a farmer buried the tombstones of a Black cemetery to make way for a potato patch. In the 1980s, descendants of the original settlers, Black and White, came together to restore the cemetery, but there were hidden truths no one wanted to discuss. Deep racial wounds were opened. Scenes of the cemetery excavation, interviews with residents and re-enactments—including one of a baseball game where a broken headstone is used for home plate—add to the film's emotional intensity.

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This work deals with mature subject matter. Viewer discretion is advised.
Speakers for the Dead

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This documentary reveals some of the hidden history of Blacks in Canada. In the 1930s in rural Ontario, a farmer buried the tombstones of a Black cemetery to make way for a potato patch. In the 1980s, descendants of the original settlers, Black and White, came together to restore the cemetery, but there were hidden truths no one wanted to discuss. Deep racial wounds were opened. Scenes of the cemetery excavation, interviews with residents and re-enactments—including one of a baseball game where a broken headstone is used for home plate—add to the film's emotional intensity.
This work deals with mature subject matter. Viewer discretion is advised.
  • director
    David Sutherland
    Jennifer Holness
  • producer
    Peter Starr
  • executive producer
    Louise Lore
  • director of photography
    Carolyn Wong
  • editor
    Denis Takacs
  • sound recordist
    Sanjay Mehta
  • original music score
    Tom Third
  • post-production sound facility
    Trackworks Inc.
  • sound editor
    Tim Roberts
  • mixer
    Tim Roberts
  • dialogue editor
    David Drainie Taylor
  • assistant sound editor
    Timothy Mehlenbacher
  • foley artist
    John F. Thompson
  • foley engineer
    Steve Pollett
  • production supervision
    Kemp Archibald
    James Fiege
  • assistant production supervisor
    Michael Sardella
  • program administrator
    Ida Di Fruscia
  • administrative assistant
    Joanne Forrest
  • production administrative assistant
    Catherine Fletcher
  • production assistant
    Akhaji Zakiya
  • technical assistant
    Kevin Drysdale
  • cast
    Miriam Davis
    Sandra Holness
    David Holness
    Wayne Blackford
    Enid Barnet
    Caleb McMullen
    Christopher M. Quinn
    Irving Thomlinson
    Andrew Bee
    Rebecca M. Quinn
    Jason Friesen
    Leon Sutherland
    Corey Warren

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Education

Ages 14 to 17
This is a troubling documentary about racism, lies and secrets in a small Ontario town that tried to hide its segregationist past. The relative nature of history is highlighted here, and is an interesting subject to explore so as to develop students’ critical thinking skills. Compare history textbooks from earlier periods with today’s. Are there references to slavery, to rejection of and contempt for blacks by Canadians?
Speakers for the Dead
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