Bringing Indigenous stories to the screen

Growing up, Kelvin Redvers loved watching movies and TV, but rarely ever saw Indigenous people on screen. That lack of representation stuck with him, and has helped shape his career in film.

Having the opportunity to see stories by Indigenous filmmakers, such as Jeff Barnaby’s Rhymes for Young Ghouls, or Taika Waititi’s Boy had an incredible impact on him, something he hopes others get to experience. “I would love to have it feel normal, so that some 15 year old can go to the movie theatre and watch movies from an Indigenous filmmaker, right alongside movies like The Avengers, or James Bond,” he says.

Redvers considered other film programs, but decided SFU was right for him for a few reasons. “One of the main ones, is that the film program got started right away,” he says, “year one you are making short films. I also liked that it was a small class – so you can really feel like part of a community. As well, I liked that it was a University and I could take all sorts of other classes…  as all that extra knowledge makes you a better storyteller!”

Coming from Hay River, Northwest Territories to Vancouver was a big adjustment. “Some people from my hometown talk about how they would have trouble in a big city like Vancouver – but I kind of liked the big city. However, for anyone who is on the fence, SFU is a really great option. Most of the university is up on a mountain – so you really can feel like you are in a separate little world. Being around so much beautiful nature helped as well, as I could go for walks or jogs on the nature trails.”

He also found ways to connect with the Indigenous community at SFU through volunteering at the First Nations Student Association, and through the Indigenous Student Centre.

Since graduation, Redvers has worked to bring Indigenous stories and life in the North to the screen, and used his skills to create meaningful impact for Indigenous youth.

When Redvers started the non-profit organization We Matter [] with his sister, they wanted to address a lack of culturally-specific mental health support for Indigenous youth.

“Usually mental health resources were developed in big cities, by non-Indigenous folks who don’t quite understand challenges people like us face. We wanted We Matter to be a place where Indigenous youth could get help with the struggles they are going through – and to have that help come from other Indigenous youth, or from Indigenous role models and celebrities.”

Through its website, workshops and toolkits for educators and support workers, the campaign has reached Indigenous youth across Canada with messages of hope.

For any Indigenous students considering SFU he says “any time you get the option to learn and grow – take it. It can be hard at times yes, but you can stay connected to the Indigenous community on campus – and you can still stay connected to your community back home.”