Carleton student documents life on Ont. reserve

A Carleton University student who spent a summer volunteering at a northern Ontario First Nation is set to screen a documentary he made there.

A Carleton University student who spent a summer volunteering at a northern Ontario First Nation is set to screen a documentary he made there.

Graham Shonfield, a second-year student, had his first volunteer experience at 15 when he went to Kenya to build schools. He said on that trip he had an epiphany.

"You have to bring what you've learned here back home to Canada, and I thought you know I should really take that into heart," Shonfield said.

So last summer he volunteered on Gull Bay First Nation, about 200 km from Thunder Bay, Ont.

"It was like going to a third world country only I hadn't left the province," he said.

"On the first day I noticed that I couldn't drink the water that came out of the taps."

Shonfield filmed his experiences as the first student volunteer Gull Bay had welcomed.

Brenda Afanasiev, a member of the First Nation who works as executive assistant to the chief, said Shonfield was a welcome volunteer and that she'd be happy to see more students like him.

"You know you have to start with your own backyard first," Afanasiev said.

"I think that he brought a lot to the community, but he also shared a lot of our community with other people."

Shonfield said he hopes his documentary will encourage more university students to consider volunteering in a First Nations or Aboriginal community.

Life on the Reserve is set to screen at the Mayfair Theatre on March 9.