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‘Tzouhalem’ will tell history and legend at Ladysmith screening

Ladysmith Secondary School program hosts documentary screening May 28
William Taylor and Mandy Jones, Yutustanaat, teach the land and language-based learning program at Ladysmith Secondary School. The program is presenting the Ladysmith premiere of the recently released documentary film Tzouhalem on Saturday, May 28. The screening will feature a question-and-answer session with some of the individuals involved in the production. (Duck Paterson photo)


A film featuring a Stz’uminus member and Ladysmith Secondary School grad will be making its Ladysmith premiere this week.

Ladysmith Secondary School’s land and language-based learning class will be hosting a screening of the documentary Tzouhalem, which features actor and narrator, Isaiah Harris, in partnership with Stz’uminus Community School on May 28.

The myths and legends of Chief Tzouhalem still play a part in the relationships Cowichan Tribes have with their neighbours. Interviews with Cowichan Tribes elders and historians, along with re-enactments, tell the story of Chief Tzouhalem, who led the Quw’utsun people during the mid-1800s.

“Tzouhalem’s story is both history and legend,” said Leslie Bland, the film’s director.

While a powerful story of the past, it also brings in the present and the future, showing how residential schools continue to impact First Nations communities today and highlighting the need for Indigenous self-governance. The film shows how Chief Tzouhalem’s legend is still talked about and looks at how his story has been told as well as how it’s been passed down to the community.

“We are really excited about this show. It’s a huge opportunity to showcase a portion of our area’s actual history, both real and in folklore,” said William Taylor, who teaches land and language at LSS along with Mandy Jones.

The Ladysmith showing will also have a very unique feature, as the hosts will use the school kitchen to prepare genuine Indigenous foods to be served in the foyer of the school.

The film will be shown in the LSS theatre and following the showing there will be a question-and-answer session with Harris as well as others involved in the production.

“Stz’uminus community members have also been invited and it’s hoped that the elders will attend and the Stz’uminus school has also been invited,” Taylor said. “We are hoping to bring our communities, Stz’uminus and Ladysmith, together … and to lift each other up as we continue to walk together.”

Tzouhalem was recently shown in Squamish and Lil’wat territories in Whistler and on Vancouver Island in Victoria, Sooke and Duncan.

The documentary will be shown May 28 at Ladysmith Secondary School starting with refreshments at 5:30 p.m. and the showing beginning at 7 p.m. Tickets to the event are limited and are available for pickup at the school’s main office during school hours.

RELATED: Legend of ‘Tzouhalem’ comes to the big screen

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