Samaqan Water Stories is known as the brownest crew working in Canada. That's a joke we like to pass around, but seriously we are majority indigenous and come from many nations, first nations mostly. We also like to say that we are from the finicky first nations because we are very fussy about how our pictures look and what quality our sound is like. All crew members work for Urban Rez Productions, our parent company, but each are assigned to the TV series we work on at any given moment. We have three producers and a variety of technical people who freelance with us. Our edit team is all first nations; the camera crew is all first nations. Why is this important?
It is important for us to provide working and training opportunities for indigenous first nations. Since the creation of the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network in 1997 our industry has been building slowly. When the network launched I was asked to be on the board of directors. I served for six months because I realized it was mostly non-aboriginal companies who were pitching the network. Looking behind the scenes it was plain to see that our people were way behind. So I left the board and set up my new independent production company and went to bat for the young people. I have taught at Capilano College for several years and finally found a base crew that I could mentor and train. I called on my old school chums to come in and my long time collaborators Marianne Jones and Rene Sioui Labelle came along for the ride. Later Don Howell joined in. And within a decade we developed a rock solid team.
When we came up with the SAMAQAN concept we tossed around lots of names as to who could be our host. When I mentioned Severn's name, the Network hesitated at first, feeling reticent that she was not a first nations person. Both Marianne and I agreed she was a top choice since she was reared in environmental awareness. I stood up to our choice and in the end the network agreed. Severn likes to say it was our own form of emancipation. Indeed she is as indigenous as we like her to be.
Meet our team folks. Check out our profiles and bios. It is a combination of solid team work and visionary leadership that brings you these water stories.