Movie poster for ‘The Grizzlies’. Photo submitted
Influencers Motivating Influencers hosted a movie screening of ‘The Grizzlies’ at Lakeland College in Vermilion on June 20.
Influencers Motivating Influencers (IMI) is a group of artists, musicians, and television personalities who have been encouraging communities to embrace mental health awareness for the past six and a half years. They have visited over 40 communities and provided over 160 workshops primarily in Alaska, Yukon, Northwest Territories, Nunavut, and Nunavik (northern Quebec).
Founder and tour producer, Dave DeVos, used to live in Northern Canada and now lives in Vermilion, Alberta. He welcomed everyone to the screening and thanked everyone for creating more awareness about Indigenous cultures in other regions as well as awareness about mental health.
“I hope this movie will inspire you and show you that you can do anything you set out to. IMI began in Kugluktuk and all of the people on the team have been impacted by suicide and mental health. We often reference the Dick Van Dyke quote, ‘We all need something to do, someone to love, and something to hope for,’” said Dave DeVos.
Based on a true story about the town, Kugluktuk, ‘The Grizzlies’ movie follows a teacher who moved to the Arctic but didn’t plan to stay long. He was soon compelled to make a difference with a group of youth by encouraging them to become involved in lacrosse to avoid struggling with alcohol, abuse, and suicide.
The vast landscapes and hard truths were balanced with beautiful imagery and a feeling of hope throughout the movie. Ricky Marty-Pahtaykan, from Frog Lake First Nation, plays a leading role in the film as the character, Adam.
“This is the number one Canadian film in theatres today! It is currently in independent screenings and will be released to the public in October. I think having local actors coming on their own accord was a great surprise to the audience, including to a local lacrosse team who came to watch the film,” added DeVos.
Left, Local actor Ricky Marty-Pahtaykan. Photo submitted
Right, Dave DeVos, Founder and tour producer for Influencers Motivating Influencers.Photo Angela Mouly
Ricky’s mother, Charity Marty-Pahtaykan, said, “Originially I was going to attend by myself. The boys had auditions and when I said that I was going, Ricky said that he would come, and then the other boys joined us (Tristen and Samuel). By attending we surprised Lakeland College’s Manager of Indigenous Support Services - Clint Chocan, IMI founder Dave DeVos and the audience because the film was already rolling when the boys entered.
Suicide affects everyone, not just one race. I was really looking for the response of the people, and they were profoundly appreciative that all of the Marty brothers attended. During the film, I could hear people weeping, and gasping, and the laughter! People had their attention on Dave as he announced the special guests with us, and looking at the crowd, all of their heads turned to spot Ricky and his brothers and their mouths dropped open. His brother Tristen had been in the movie, ‘Indian Horse,’ and his brother Samuel had been in the Emmy winning Netflix show, ‘Godless.’
The reaction of all of the people in the auditorium is something I will remember all of my life. As a mother and a manager it was very moving and I was very happy that they had decided to come with me; it was very rewarding. The response from the audience was priceless as it was a very rare appearance to have all of the boys together. It will be one of the few times they will be together before they start filming again.”
Ricky Marty-Pahtaykan also enjoyed the film screening in Vermilion and said, “This was my second time in Vermilion, the first time being at the Fair in 2014 which was a good experience. It never fails; even after a couple dozen times of watching the film, each time it is like the first time. Each time I get a lump in my throat - especially with the youth; the look in the children’s eyes is moving. During a recent tour in British Columbia, the youth were star-struck. I never thought people would look up to me like that. It makes me want to keep building to empower the youth. I am not in it for the money or fame. I want to show people that nothing is impossible and that if you have a dream, it can come true.
Currently 23, I began modelling at the age of 11. My grandma had encouraged me to go to modelling agencies which I had done for a few months but realized it was very money-oriented and time consuming. It was too much at that age, and wanted to finish school. Then my grandma passed away and I had given up on my dream because my biggest fan had left me. When I was 14, I remained in my room - depressed, not wanting to do anything. My mom told me what was going on in Edmonton; there was look-alike contest for ‘Twilight’. Knowing that I was depressed she said that I had to keep doing it and reminded me that I could do it for my grandma. So I got up on my two feet, and went to Edmonton, and won the contest hosted by 91.7 The Bounce. I got an acting agent and all three of us got introduced to acting. It skyrocketed with us getting cast in films. It still is, and I am loving it! Because I lost my grandma at a very young age and my character, Adam at a very young age was being raised by his grandparents - being around them is what made me put out in the film. It was very memorable. I’ll never forget those moments that I spent in Iqaluit.”
From left, members of Vermilion Roar Lacrosse with the actors Ryan Adams, actor Ricky Marty-Pahtaykan, Kale, actor Tristen Marty-Pahtaykan, Linden, Nate, Jocelyn, actor Samuel Marty-Pahtaykan, Nathan, Cole, and Lance. Photo submitted