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The Washing of Tears

The Washing of Tears

| 54 min

In 1903, a unique and magnificent Whaler's shrine was shipped from Friendly Cove, on the far northwest coast of Canada, to the Museum of Natural History, New York. The shrine had lain at the cultural heart of the Mowachaht, whale hunters and fishermen who had lived at Friendly Cove for thousands of years. In the 1960s and '70s, all but one family left their ancient village--they moved to Vancouver Island, to a new site under the walls of a pulp mill. They suffered extremes of pollution, violence, alcohol.... Then, in the 1990s, in defiance of the agony of their history and to overcome the grief of the present, the Mowachaht and their neighbours, the Muchalaht, revived their songs and dances, revisited their shrine and rediscovered their pride.

  • director
    Hugh Brody
  • script
    Hugh Brody
  • producer
    Gillian Darling
    Cari Green
    George Johnson
  • associate producer
    Barb Cranmer
  • cinematography
    Kirk Tougas
  • sound
    Chris Aikenhead
    Caroline Goldie
    David Husby
    Michael McGee
  • editing
    Haida Paul
  • sound editing
    Haida Paul
    Alison Grace
  • re-recording
    Shelley Craig


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Ages 16 to 18

Ethics and Religious Culture - Ethical Values
History and Citizenship Education - First Occupants (to 1500)
History and Citizenship Education - Imperialism and Colonization (1800s-1900s)
Indigenous Studies - History/Politics
Social Studies - Contemporary Issues

This documentary can inspire research, discussion, projects and entry points for further learning about First Nations cultural items, history and repatriation. How and why did tribes such as the Mowachaht/Muchalaht First Nations get wiped out when newcomers decided they wanted to forcibly occupy this land? What is a “Whalers Shrine” and where is it located at this time? What is repatriation and why should items be returned freely to the Mowachaht/Muchalaht First Nations? What ethics are conveyed by groups who feel they have a right to confiscate and desecrate cultural and sacred items from Indigenous Peoples? What psychological damage occurs when people are forced to relocate and have cultural items confiscated from their ancestral communities? How did anthropologists such as Franz Boa contribute to the perpetuation of stolen or “salvaged” cultural items? How have non-Indigenous people profited from sacred ancestral items? How did anthropologists contribute to the destruction of traditional culture while claiming they were trying to preserve it? How did the potlatch ban enforced by the Indian Act further devalue cultural ways of being and validate others stealing ceremonial items?

The Washing of Tears
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