Kaayla Whachell (Submitted photo)

Woman from Abbotsford gets $20k Indigenous film grant

Laura’s Report will be Kaayla Whachell’s first directing role in several years

Kaayla Whachell was on set when she got the call to tell her she had won a $20,000 film grant.

“So I was running around, and then it’s like, ‘Oh, who’s this number?’ ” said Whachell, who is originally from Abbotsford but now works in Vancouver’s film industry.

“I had to go off set for five minutes just to scream and be excited and then go back to work.”

Whachell has worked on a number of projects through Storyhive, Telus’s platform to support and fund independent filmmakers, but Laura’s Report will be Whachell’s first in several years as a director, having worked mostly as cinematographer.

RELATED: Storyhive looking to fund Indigenous filmmakers

“There are a lot of female directors, but there are very few female cinematographers. So I’ve been trying to focus on that and get my name out there, because a lot of women quit right away, because there’s a lot of politics with it,” Whachell said.

“Being a cinematographer, working so closely with directors the past few years, I definitely feel confident in that I know what I want and I know how to achieve it, and I’ll be able to communicate that with my cinematographer very clearly.”

Laura’s Report explores the nuances of Indigenous identity that can be lost in the criminal justice system, told through Laura’s experience with a Gladue report. A Gladue report is ordered by courts to explore how traumas resulting from colonialism have led an Indigenous person to the criminal justice system. They are submitted as mitigating factors for judges to consider in sentencing.

In Laura’s case, she is hoping a reduced sentence will help her regain custody of her child.

But Laura finds herself caught up in a process that she feels demeans her life experiences and reduces her to Indigenous stereotypes.

“[Laura] never thought of herself as somebody that has undergone a lot of pain or trauma,” Whachell said. “She just thought of it as her life and just accepted it, but her Gladue writer, just by not being properly trained, starts to suggest that she should be more upset about things that have happened in her life.”

Whachell says the idea came from film work she has been doing recently with the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, which introduced her to people who had undergone Gladue reports.

“The film is completely fictional, but I just started to think more about it, and basically came up with the script through questions that I had about the process, myself. So the problem is not supposed to be: Is a Gladue report good or bad? It’s more: Is there maybe a problem with the system?”

The grant awarded for Laura’s Report is part of the Storyhive’s first Indigenous Storyteller grant, totalling $600,000 among 30 B.C. and Alberta residents.

The final projects will be available in fall 2019 on Telus’s on-demand TV service, and Whachell said she will be able to submit her project to film festivals.

Report an error or send us your tips, photos and video.

Dustin Godfrey | Reporter


Send Dustin an email.
Like the Abbotsford News on Facebook.
Follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Stolen stamp collection has been returned to owners in Abbotsford

Good Samaritan found the stamps hidden away in some bushes and turned them over to police

Police find loaded rifle in car of ‘prolific offender’ prohibited from driving

Tyler Houle of Abbotsford arrested Wednesday in Chilliwack

Man wants guilty plea revoked in 2012 collision in Abbotsford that killed Chilliwack woman

Michael Larocque was charged in relation to crash that killed Eileen Kleinfelder

Trial slated to start Monday for accused killer of Abbotsford cop

Oscar Arfmann faces first-degree murder for death of Const. John Davidson

George Ferguson Way apartment building goes to public hearing Monday

Bike lockers signal shift in Abbotsford developers’ thinking, Banman says

New airline regulations bring compensation for tarmac delays, over-bookings

Some of the new regulations will roll out in July, while others are expected for December.

Burnaby facility to dispose of 1,500 tonnes of Canada’s trash from Philippines

All 103 containers will be disposed of properly within Canada before the end of the summer

Scheer says it would take Conservatives five years to balance budget

Scheeraccused the Liberal government of spending $79.5 billion of previously unbudgeted funds

High-risk sex offender released into Surrey

Earon Wayne Giles, a Newton “tag-team rapist,” was released from prison Friday and is now living in Surrey

Vancouver woman sexually assaulted after man follows her home; suspect at large

Police are looking for an Asian man in his 40s after the incident on Vancouver’s east side.

B.C. man, 30, arrested for driving his parents’ cars while impaired twice in one day

The Vancouver-area man was arrested after officers caught him driving impaired twice in one day

UPDATE: Vancouver man dies after crash between motorcycle, transport truck

Police believe speed was a factor in Thursday collision

Body found after fire at Surrey homeless camp, police say

Surrey RCMP say the body was found inside a shed after firefighters extinguished the fire

RCMP probe hit-and-run of Richmond senior

The man, who is in his mid-70s, was walking with his wife when he was allegedly struck

Most Read