Saskatchewan

Sask. film community mourning death of filmmaker Trudy Stewart

Saskatchewan's film community is mourning the loss of Trudy Stewart, a director and filmmaker, who was a role model and leader in reconciliation efforts and the art of cinema in the province.

Trudy Stewart was a central figure in documenting efforts around protecting the RIIS cemetery

Trudy Stewart was an award-winning filmmaker who did immense work documenting the preservation of the Regina Indian Industrial School Cemetery. A post on the Saskatchewan Filmpool Cooperative Facebook page on Oct. 1, 2019 indicated the filmmaker and role model has passed away. (Facebook.com/Saskatchewan Filmpool Cooperative)

Saskatchewan's film community is mourning the death of a well-known filmmaker who was a central figure in documenting efforts to protect and commemorate the Regina Indian Industrial School cemetery (RIIS). 

Trudy Stewart, co-director of RIIS of Amnesia and an award-winning filmmaker, died suddenly. The details of her death have not been made public.

A post on the Saskatchewan Filmpool Cooperative's Facebook page said Stewart was a "leader and a role model" to everyone in Sask.'s filmmaking community.

Jodie Payant, a board member of the RIIS Media Project Inc. which worked with Stewart and her filmmaking partner Janine Windolph to produce the film, said she was able to form strong bonds with her subjects.

"She was a down-to-earth woman who knew how to tell a story," Payant said.

"[She] knew how to connect with people around their story in a way that was comfortable with them, so she could deal with very sensitive issues."

Trudy Stewart can be seen in this photo shared from the Saskatchewan Filmpool Co-operative on Tuesday evening, Oct. 1, 2019. The province's film-making community is in mourning following Stewart's death, as she was a role model and leader to many. (Facebook.com/Saskatchewan Filmpool Cooperative)

Stewart, who is from the Flying Dust First Nation, also gathered statements from residential school survivors for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, hearing and documenting their stories of Canada's residential schools and the stories of others involved in the residential school system.

Payant said while Stewart's storytelling abilities will be missed greatly by all of those who knew her, they'll also miss her "quiet sense of humour." 

"We're going to all miss her," Payant said.

Bill Wall, the secretary with the RIIS Commemorative Association Inc., said Stewart is being remembered as a "beautiful spirit," with an immense amount of talent. 

"Just somebody that you liked to be with," Wall said, describing Stewart.

"[She was] somebody who cared deeply about what she was doing and somebody who had the knowledge, the background and the skills, to do what was needed to make sure this heritage cemetery is never forgotten again."

The work Stewart did around the preserving the story and history of the RIIS cemetery will be a "huge part" of her legacy, Payant said.

In June, officials with the RIIS Commemorative Association Inc., were given the land the RIIS cemetery is located on and they've pledged to protect the site, the bodies of those who rest there and its history for generations to come.