Artists collective seeks to help an Indigenous youth turn their scary story into a horror film

A new contest is asking Indigenous youth to submit a scary story, to win the opportunity to turn it into a short horror film.

Contest open to Indigenous youth in southern Ontario

Yuma Hester and Ashley Maracle are part of the 13-member Bawaadan Collective. The all-Indigenous collective is looking to help a youth create a short horror film which would be screened in the youth's community. (Yuma Hester)

A new contest is asking Indigenous youth to submit a scary story, to win the opportunity to turn it into a short horror film.

Yuma Hester, Anishinaabe-Cree, is the creative director of the Bawaadan Collective, an all-Indigenous production company based out of Neyaashiinigmiing First Nation.

"Working with communities across Ontario and Manitoba, a lot of those kids got those scary stories," said Hester. 

Bawaadan describes itself as a "flat-structure, with no hierarchy," with 13 members who have different roles and skills.

The collective is working on this project in partnership with Finding Our Power Together, another Indigenous creative group, to help mentor a youth in southern Ontario to produce a short film.

"We're really grateful for where we are and I think we just really wanted to give something back or start something for the youth," said Hester.

The contest is open to Indigenous youth, aged 14-29, in a First Nation or urban centre in southern Ontario, south of Rama.

Yuma Hester is the creative director of the Bawaadan Collective. He says that collectively, the group has more than 60 years of experience of working with community and youth. (Submitted by Bawaadan Collective)

Looking for community's support

One of the producers, Ashley Maracle, Mohawk from Tyendinaga, said the collective is accepting both written and video submissions.

"One of the things that we'll be looking for is their enthusiasm and making sure that, when they're pitching their story, they're really invested in seeing the project through," said Maracle.

Bawaadan is committing to mentoring the winner through pre-production Zoom meetings, going to the youth's community with two to three staff for three days with cinematic-quality recording equipment, as well as all post-production editing and music scoring duties.

Maracle said they are hoping to pick a winner who will also have support from mentors in their community, "whether it's their peers or just some people from the community making sure that they can really pull it together and make it a community project."

The collective would like to shoot in the fall and are going to work on having a community screening.

 The Bawaadan Collective is accepting applications until July 31.


Lenard Monkman is Anishinaabe from Lake Manitoba First Nation, Treaty 2 territory. He was an associate producer with CBC Indigenous.