New documentary hopes prayer will help children and adults find their way home

Allana McdougallAPTN NewsA powerful film about reconnecting first nations youth with families is making its way across Canada.The long ride home documents a 600 kilometre journey by horseback that connected communities from Wahpeton to Wood Mountain Lakota Nation this past summer.”The horse will always find its way home and just like this ride, we’re creating awareness for our children to find their way home,” says Neil Sioux, who organized the ride and opens the film. “And I think that when we use these horses to pray, I honestly think that these children, some way, somehow, where ever their home is, that they’ll find their way home.”Director Steve Haining was asked to film the journey after developing a relationship with Sioux and the workers with QBOW Child and Family Services, an agency in Southern Saskatchewan.”There was like over a dozen riders that just came to support,” he said. “It was just beautiful to see like how you’d go to one community and then you’d see a whole bunch of people come and support and go for as long as they could on the ride and even if they couldn’t do the whole ride they were just like we’re here for you, we’ll be here to support you.“It’s just a beautiful thing.”Over 12 days, the ride visited six communities where people gathered in song and ceremony to pray for those who have been displaced.Sioux hopes the message will help people reconnect with home and culture.”But to actually take that chance and to try to look for family and to try to look for acceptance, I kind of think that that’s what this documentary does is it provides encouragement for people in that situation to reach out because these people in their communities,” Sioux said.“They probably never heard or they don’t know, there’s like nothing so I’m kinda hoping these stories will effect people in that way to search for their families to find out a lot of their history, to find out about their culture, to find out about how beautiful it is, how powerful it is.”The film will be screened at 40 festivals this year.Presently, it is being shown in Saskatchewan among communities that engaged with the ride.”I think that where the ride was addressing some very serious things, and people were talking about some of the hardest things in their life, in the film you kind of learn a couple of those stories very well, but I think that because everybody could relate to each other and go, okay this is where our starting point is,” said Haining“This is where we are.”A longer ceremonial ride is planned to travel between Wood Mountain and Wahpeton Saskatchewan this August.For more information, follow bring home the children ride and the long ride home on facebook. 

Video Journalist / Toronto

Allana is a graduate of the Indigenous Studies program at Trent University and the new media journalism program at Sheridan College. She worked at Sudbury.com and TVO before coming to APTN National News where she now covers Indigenous stories in Southern Ontario as a video journalist. McDougall is a member of Hiawatha First Nation.