Rachel-Alouki is an Abenaki who grew up with the Kanesatake Mohawks. Since she was very young, Rachel-Alouki has carried around photographic equipment, a super 8 film camera and told stories through her images. She soon realized that non-Aboriginals knew little about the Quebec First Nations… The idea of raising awareness and providing a positive image of her people came to her naturally then, and especially since the Oka-Kanesatake conflict.
Rachel-Alouki Labbé is an energetic and enticing, passionate and impassioned woman, who dreams of nothing less than changing the world! She enjoys travelling throughout Quebec spreading her passion for film creation and can speak with great insight about the different Aboriginal communities. Through her films, she strives to overcome prejudices and above all to value and convey the strength of the First Peoples. In her view, rapprochement requires mutual understanding. “We must take the time to learn to understand the others, their culture, and their reality”. Such an understanding can lead to accepting both differences and similarities.
After being shut out of the former Radio-Canada TV series Course Destinations Monde, in which she was one of the finalists, Rachel-Alouki decided to do a race of her own and set off to explore Africa, Asia and Central America, camera in hand. Back in Quebec, she secured a mandate from the Canadian International Development Agency to make a documentary on sustainable development in Costa Rica. After that, she decided to get involved in the Vues d’Afrique festival. “I wanted to raise public awareness about all forms of racism”. She directed several documentaries in Aboriginal lands broadcast on APTN and for four years, directed the series “Quand passe la cigogne”, aired on Canal Vie, as well as taking part in Wapikoni Mobile tours for the National Film Board.
Rachel-Alouki is very concerned with youth, and made a Department of Indian Affairs sponsored documentary on school drop-outs, which will be screened in all the communities to give young people a taste for education.
A Teleflex Canada grant enabled her to write her first fictional series on Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal youth seeking their contemporaries through action, legends and paranormal events! Despite here many activities, she has never had any intention of slowing down and even foresees other filming sessions in Aboriginal communities and abroad. She founded Alouki Films, a production company specialized in Aboriginal stories here and elsewhere.
Rachel-Alouki’s leitmotiv: provide a voice to First Nations in Canada and elsewhere. Images for and by First Nations!
Interview with Rachel-Alouki Labbé
Rachel-Alouki Labbé’s career got a start through a couple of lucky breaks. While she was unemployed, she met a friend and talked to her frankly about what she wanted to do – she was dreaming of photographing births. The friend said she was looking for a director for a film project titles “Quand passe la cigogne” (When the stork comes). Very shortly afterwards, she was hired to direct this half-hour film.
She fell in love with film directing, and other projects followed. Once again, a friend told her that APTN was looking for an Aboriginal woman director to work on the series “Ca clique”. She sent in her recent films to the person in charge of the project but he harshly criticised her work, saying her filming lacked creativity. However, she did meet him with copies of her older films. She was hired and travelled to the communities. A triumphal experience.
Making films about Aboriginal people is a good means of giving them a voice. She formed her company “Alouki films” and has worked tirelessly for its success. The company was involved in a co-production with “Wakiponi Mobile”. This was a film funded by the Indian Affairs department about school dropouts, and stars the Algonquin rapper Samian. Rachel-Aloui thinks it will encourage young people to stay in school.
She is working on three more films about childbirth, first, in Mexico with Aboriginal women, then in a refugee camp in Uganda, and finally in the Dominican Republic. Starting out from a child’s birth, what kind of future prospects does she or he have?
Rachel-Alouki has plenty of projects and lots of hope. She is thrilled with the idea that young Aboriginal people are now learning filmmaking. This effort has to be constant, day-by-day.
Excerpts from the film L’espoir de Dany-Koo by Rachel-Alouki Labbé
The fire reappears to fade immediately into the other image showing a close-up of heads of a young woman and young man conversing.
The other scene takes us along a dirt road bordered by trees. The film title appears on screen in Attikamekw and French. The road takes us to a close-up of three eagle feathers attached to a window frame.
Soon we see a young man and young woman approaching, walking hand in hand. He is tall and slim, a head taller than his companion. They look happy. In the following scene, they are sitting by a riverbank. The young woman speaks into the camera. Then we see a close-up of her. She continues to speak while smoothing wisps of her long hair that are agitated by the breeze. She has a very pretty face, and seems lit up with hope.
In the following scene, the camera takes to the road again. The landscape is snow-covered. The trees come into focus in against the rays of sunlight peeking through them. We pass two human silhouettes on the road.
In the following scene, the viewer is within the young couple’s kitchen. They are hugging in front of the stove. They kiss then separate so the young woman can pick up a baby another young woman brings to her.
The next shot shows the young mother speaking in front to the camera. We know she is in the baby’s room because we can see a crib and baby toys. In another scene, the young parents are cuddling and kissing their baby who is in its mother’s arms. Finally, in the kitchen again, we see the young mother dancing with her baby. Another young woman and a girl are with them. Both of them take the baby in their arms in turn.