Filmmaker Steve Sxwithul’txw is excited to be coming home this weekend — and to get a chance to learn to race canoes and share his experience with youth while he’s at it.
Sxwithul’txw, who is from the Penelakut Tribe, is the producer and host of The Warrior Games, a new television series for youth about aboriginal sports that will air on APTN and the Internet in the fall of 2013.
Warrior Games will be in Kulleet Bay this weekend (July 21-22) to shoot an epsiode during the Stz’uminus Canoe Festival.
During the show, Sxwithul’txw travels to different communities and trains with local athletes and world record-holders, chats with the Elders about the cultural and historical significance of each sport and attempts the sport in a competitive environment.
Warrior Games also introduces viewers to youth who are practising for regional and international competitions while they gain insight, knowledge and wisdom from their Elders.
From the high kick in the Arctic, to brutally fierce stickball in Mississippi, aboriginal peoples from all corners of the globe have a culture and history deeply rooted in sport. Some, such as the kneel jump, helped enable hunters to move quickly when ice started to break, while others were used to resolve disputes.
“It’s a really cool concept, and the concept is based on helping youth rediscover indigenous games in their community,” said Sxwithul’txw. “I’m in my mid-40s now, and I go in and the youth show me the sports, and the Elders guide me.”
Sxwithul’txw is from the Penelakut tribe and was raised in Duncan. He lives in Victoria now and is excited to have the opportunity to film a show about the Stz’uminus Canoe Festival at Kulleet Bay. Sxwithul’txw has never raced in a canoe before.
Sxwithul’txw used to live in Ladysmith, and he has many friends and family here.
“I love that little town,” he said. “I’m looking forward to seeing a lot of friends and family and being able to share and relish in the fact we’re nationalizing a sport that’s very important to them. I’m from the Penelakut tribe, and I’m very proud of that fact.”
Sxwithul’txw has a varied background, and all of those experiences help him bring perspective to his shows and his visits to different communities.
Sxwithul’txw is a residential school survivor, a former policeman in Ladysmith, a former car salesman in Duncan and a former journalist with CTV.
“I have an interesting history, and I carry that history with me everywhere I go,” he said. “I bring a lot of experience to every community I go to. I’ve been around the block. I’ve been on reservation … I’ve lived in both worlds very comfortably and am doing OK. What I get from the youth is the message ‘wow, this is really cool.’ We come in with our big cameras, our big crews, lights and makeup people … for us to bring this little machine into their community and show them how it works.”
Outside of his television work, Sxwithul’txw works with the Vancouver Island Health Authority as an aboriginal employment advisor, recruiting aboriginal people to jobs in the health sector, and working with aboriginal youth through Warrior Games is another way he can spread the message about the importance of staying in school and grabbing opportunities when they come up.
“I bring a multitude of messages when I’m dealing with youth, and it’s all youth-focused for me because that’s where our future lies,” he said. “I can give those opportunities and that insight into these careers into what it takes to meet these goals — and you can’t do it with only Grade 12. You need post-secondary education, and I keep feeding that to the youth any chance I get.”
For Sxwithul’txw, the biggest thing he gets out of doing this show is how he can affect the lives of youth.
“First and foremost, it’s the impact it has on youth and kids and that there’s more to life than what you lead right now; to find those opportunities, you have to chase them,” he said. “For me, it’s a chance for kids to see a normal guy who lived on reservation and see that you can exceed your dreams. I share that with youth every time I’m in a community, and I love sharing it because without the education, I wouldn’t be where I’m at, plain and simple.”
Sxwithul’txw says the people they connect with in the various communities in which Warrior Games shoots are excited to be part of the show.
“I think from the contacts our production co-ordinator has made in the communities, it’s very exciting for them that a national TV show is taking an interest in a sport they do competitively and to stay in shape …,” he said. “People want to share what makes them tick and what’s important to them. We are giving them the opportunity to share these stories by sharing their sports. It’s a lot of fun for all the communities.”