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Aboriginal Filmmaker: Coleen Rajotte

8TH Fire Host Wab Kinew Réal Junior Leblanc Jessie Fraser Duncan McCue Marie-Pier Ottawa Karine Awashish Alethea Arnaquq-Baril Caroline Nepton Hotte Jérémie Wookey Sonia Bonspille Boileau Janelle Wookey Coleen Rajotte Waub Rice Tyler Hagan Tracey Deer Angie-Pepper O'Bomsawin Paul Andrew Dëneze Nakehk'o Connie Walker Angela Sterritt

I have a mission statement in life: "share stories that increase an understanding of Aboriginal peoples here and around the world".

My story began when I was adopted as a Cree child, by the Rajotte family in Winnipeg in the 1960's. From that decade until the early 1980's, thousands of Indigenous children were adopted into non-Indigenous, middle class homes. This era has become known as the "60s Scoop."

As a child, I had big dreams to become a television journalist. After high school, I attended the University of Manitoba where I was usually the only Aboriginal person in my university classes.

In the 1990's I was a television reporter for CBC's The National covering everything from forest fires to a big prison riot in Winnipeg, and a documentary about native street gangs.

In 1998, the CBC asked me to work on a tv current affairs program called All My Relations, the first in Canada to focus on Indigenous issues.

I found my biological family in 2001 and the story of my journey to discover my roots and birth family is the subject of a documentary I have been working on for years.

In 1999, I left the CBC and started making independent documentaries. My first was Jaynelle: It's Never Easy to Escape the Past, the story of a young aboriginal mother living for two years on social assistance. To learn more about my independent documentary work, check out www.rajottedocs.com.

In 2001, I co-founded the Winnipeg Aboriginal Film Festival with Jim Silver from the University of Winnipeg. We celebrate our 10th anniversary this year!!

In 2006, I established Vitality Television Inc. about healthy living. We have expanded the concept to "Vitality Gardening".

I have also written a screenplay based on my research around the 1960s scoop. Concrete Indian is the story of two brothers and their attempt to re-connect after being separated and adopted in the United States.

I am thrilled to work on the CBC's "8th Fire" series. It's the first time that CBC has embarked on a full documentary series about our issues in Canada. I was a producer for the episode entitled Indigenous in the City and am filing stories from across Canada for the website.

I have been reflecting on my life lately and I know I was meant to tell stories. As an older and wiser person, I see the full impact of colonization and I really think more has to be done to increase understanding about issues such as the intergenerational consequences of Residential Schools and the "1960s scoop".

Watch Coleen Rajotte's 8th Fire Dispatches

The Tragedy of Pikangikum
Adam Beach: Dream Big
Hidden Colonial Legacy: The 60's Scoop
Janelle's Story