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As we began our research for this project, we heard rumours about a film that had been shot in 1971 called Wahbung. The film was purported to contain footage of the Chiefs and events surrounding the signing of the position paper Wahbung, Our Tomorrows. As we set out to contact people for more information about this old film, it became clear that it was both missing and forgotten.

We did manage to dig up a 1972 article from the Winnipeg Free Press that described the film in question and how it enjoyed a successful premiere. The article provided many clues, including that the MIB (Manitoba Indian Brotherhood) had produced it, and the name of the director: William McCaughey.

Article from the Winnipeg Free Press, on the screening of Wahbung, 1972.

At the time, Mr. McCaughey's company was Film Factory Productions, but no information could be found on that either. As we researched more and hit more dead-ends, we became obsessed with locating the film. After following a trail of clues online, we were able to find someone who had worked with Mr. McCaughey. They had his contact information and we were able to locate him. Unfortunately he no longer had access or information on where we could find the missing film. Talking with Mr. McCaughey proved to be quite valuable, however, as he told us about another film called Rivers, Manitoba which also depicted the events of the presentation of the Wahbung position paper in 1971. Rivers, Manitoba was produced by Indian Northern Affairs Canada, and was located through the Library and Archives of Canada. We were able to obtain permission to use clips from Rivers, Manitoba in Our Tomorrows, Today.

We were quite pleased with the discovery of Rivers, but we were not going to give up the search for Wahbung. We decided to post a public appeal to MFNERC’s followers on Facebook. We had a great response from the community, but most of the tips were for places we had already looked. One person however, remembered seeing a bunch of old film reels in a storage closet. We knew that the original film had been shot on 16mm film, so this seemed very promising,

A quick trip to the community of Sagkeeng, and some time digging through dusty film canisters in a closet eventually proved to be successful! Two copies of the film were located, although they appeared to have been damaged. We had the film digitized and combined together, in order to recover the fragile film reels. A few minutes of one of the opening scenes was too badly damaged (but we are still hoping to find another copy out there and fill in those missing minutes).

We were extremely lucky to be able to use this rare and important footage in Our Tomorrows Today. Without it, our story would not be as impactful, because with it we can hear the thoughts and comments from those who were actually there and involved in these important events of Manitoba’s history.

During the research and development of Our Tomorrows, Today, some incredibly rare footage was unearthed. A short film entitled, Wahbung: Our Tomorrows, made in 1971, was found. 
This recently unearthed film from 1972, was restored from the original 16mm film. Produced to document the centennial anniversary of the signing of Treaties 1 and 2 in 1871, this film follows Grand Chief Dave Courchene Sr. and the Manitoba Indian Brotherhood throughout the events of the year, culminating in the presentation of Wahbung to the federal and provincial governments.

LISTEN TO PODCAST: 

Thunder Radio Episode 12: The Making of “Our Tomorrows, Today: Wahbung 1971″

December 2, 2016

Our own Multimedia Developer, Nicole Magne, steps out from behind the scenes to share about an exciting new video project, "Our Tomorrows, Today: Wahbung 1971", a short documentary that explores the history of "Wahbung". And the story behind the making of this documentary is as captivating and engaging as the film itself. 

ABOUT THE WAHBUNG POSITION PAPER

"The journey of self-determination and self-realization for Manitoba’s First Peoples in the realm of education began with a crisis that occurred in the late 1960s. Acting on the tenets put forth by the Hawthorn Report of 1966, the result of a study that revealed numerous social, educational and economic hardships prevalent amongst the First Peoples of Canada, the newly elected Trudeau government, whose political platform was “A Just Society for All Canadians”, produced a plan for enacting equality for all Canadians. The subsequent document, a proposal for how this new era would develop, was titled Statement of the Government of Canada on Indian Policy, a document that became popularly known as the White Paper. The White Paper’s principle tenants were based on the belief that Indian people have the right to full and equal participation in the cultural, social, economic and political life of Canada. The White Paper proposed a “framework” to ensure that individual Indians and bands could achieve full participation in Canadian socio-political and economic life. It would be an “equality” that called for relinquishing all First Nations rights, beliefs, and identity in order to be Canadian. 

 

Response to this assimilationist move was rapid and pronounced. First Nations across Turtle Island reacted in a highly charged and deliberate manner. In the Province of Manitoba, the Manitoba Indian Brotherhood developed its response entitled Wahbung: Our Tomorrows. A cooperative effort on the part of the five First Nation tribes of Manitoba – the Cree, Ojibway, Oji-Cree, Dene and Sioux nations – Wahbung: Our Tomorrows articulated a declaration, a statement by the First Peoples of Manitoba that asserted their identity, their status as a distinct group of people, and the Treaty relationships that exist between these nations of Manitoba and the people of Canada.

 

Every little step that we have taken as the First Nations peoples of this province in these last 37 years has counted towards realizing a vision set in motion by our past leadership. The Assembly of the Manitoba Chiefs became the political body for Manitoba’s First Nations; an assembly that represents all of our people living throughout the province. Through this forum of leadership, the Manitoba First Nations Education Resource Centre was established. The voice of the Manitoba Indian Brotherhood as it was then known, can still be heard as we continue to overcome the challenges we face as First Nations peoples."

Deer, Frank, and Florence Paynter. 2008. Editorial Wahbung: 37 Years Later. First Nations Perspectives Journal: MFNERC.