Saskatoon’s homeless are the focus of a new documentary that premieres next week.
“A Chance to Speak” documents the stories of several of the city’s homeless and delves into issues such as gang violence and sexual exploitation.
In June, Community-University Institute for Social Research counted 450 homeless people in Saskatoon, 10 per cent of which are children.
DT Productions began filming the documentary earlier this year in order to bring a human face and story to homelessness. Those involved with the film got a sneak-peak Thursday evening with the official premiere happening on Sept. 10 at the Roxy Theatre at 7:30 p.m. and 9 p.m.
“I was scared,” director Vern Boldick said following the pre-screening. “I have all these people who have trusted me and Jordan the film guy, and they’ve given us these vulnerable stories, and so I was just worried that we would honour them properly and give them their right.”
Faith Eagle was one of several people interviewed for the film. A former gang member who also spent time on the street, she said it was important for her to show the physical wounds she sustained.
“I think I’m the one with the most stab wounds (in the documentary),” Eagle said with a laugh. “The reason why I chose to show those is because a lot of people think that the lifestyle of being a gangster is all glamorous, but they don’t realize the results.”
Eagle said the pre-screening made her cry for all the right reasons and she was empowered by the film.
“Watching it, it made me feel proud of myself because if one individual can get something out of it by empowering them, then it’s worth it.”
Chris Moyah remembers the month he spent sleeping under the bridge in Prince Albert. He said he hopes his story helps others avoid a life on the streets, but also inspires others to help the community with more than just a monetary donation.
“Those people who are stuck on their on the streets, they probably feel like no one cares about them, and if somebody is nice to come by and say ‘I really feel for your situation and I’m very hopeful you can bring yourself out of it.’ I think that word of advice would go a long way,” he said.
A panel discussion featuring Alex Munoz of STR8-UP, a local organization which assists individuals leaving gangs, Jacqui Barclay of Saskatoon Health, and Darrell Lechman of SCYAP will follow Thursday’s premiere. Attendees can also sign up to volunteer with various local charities and community associations.
The event is free, but donations will be split between DT Productions and STR8-UP.
Boldick said following the two theatre screenings, he hopes to tour the documentary to schools, churches, community organizations and First Nations in and around Saskatoon. He’s also entering the documentary in several film festivals and is working on another documentary about mental illness and addictions in Saskatoon.