In the Similkameen consists of the interactive web documentary Similkameen Crossroads and an accompanying exhibit. The work explores an idyllic white church located on the Upper Similkameen Reserve and the land around it long enough to place it, to learn its history and to meet its present while confronting the conflicted position of the church on First Nations reserves in Canada. It’s a highly personal undertaking for Hagan, who, since obtaining his Métis citizenship, has struggled to reconcile his suburban Christian upbringing with the blighted history of the church in Indigenous communities.
“Driving east along the Crowsnest Highway in British Columbia, Canada, as you exit the old mining town of Hedley and look to the southwest, an early 20th-century white chapel sits rising from a hill in front of a mountain backdrop. Glacial till is scattered across the valley and the chapel walls glow in the sharp sunlight. Although it looks like one of the many abandoned buildings alongside this country highway, the church is still used.
Today the relationship between the Aboriginal peoples of Canada and the church continues to play a crucial role in the fabric of the country’s constitution. Quietly straddling a fine line between assimilation, non-relevance, and possible redemption, Christianity and First Nations continue their complex and troubled relationship. There remains a collective memory of terror and intergenerational damage to First Nations people and communities. Today many of these buildings still stand, either as abandoned vessels of the past, or functioning spaces of worship and communion. All remain on hallowed ground.” (Tyler Hagan)
Canada 2013, interactive web documentary, single-channel video loop, photographic prints; Similkameen Crossroads is produced by Jennifer Moss, Dana Dansereau and the NFB Digital Studio. Executive producer: Loc Dao.
The Métis filmmaker Tyler Hagan was born in Vancouver, Canada in 1986. He received his BFA in film from Simon Fraser University, where he co-founded the filmmaking collective Shakey Films. He lives and works in Vancouver.