B.C. producer says his dad built a 'continuity of spirit' that transcends generations
Before making a name for himself as a film producer, writer and social entrepreneur, Sol Guy spent his childhood in the small town of Grand Forks, B.C.
Growing up as one of the only visible minorities in a small town, Guy sometimes struggled to understand his own hyphenated identity.
"It was difficult at times as a child because you were the other," said Guy.
But his father, William Richard Guy, was instrumental in helping Sol understand his heritage.
A socially conscious upbringing
"He gave me Roots to read when I was 11-years-old and told me I had to write a book report for him," said Guy.
"You're looking at this book, that's the size of a mountain, it's not a school assignment and you're like, 'what madness is this?'... three pages in, I couldn't put the thing down."
Guy's dad also equipped him with an unconventional way to deal with racism at school.
"Until the sixth or seventh grade, if someone used the n-word, I would punch them — that was the rule," said Guy.
Violence was not the modus operandi for Guy's family, so when he got older, he asked his father about this rule.
His father said the repercussions of schoolyard fights would allow him to contact the parents of children who were using racial slurs.
"There were a few kids where this was happening consistently and when you're in primary school, when you fight, both get sent to the principal's office and a note goes home," said Guy.
"My father took it upon himself to go to these homes and have a conversation with the mother and father."
Carrying his father's legacy forward
Guy's father passed away nearly 20 years ago, but his presence is still felt.
The pair's strong relationship had a major impact on the man Guy would become — a fact he takes great pride in.
"When someone says to me that I remind them of my father, or that I look like my father, I cannot have a more proud moment," said Guy. "I believe quite honestly that I am my father. Everything he was, did and is, I've become yet a new version of."
Since becoming a father himself, Guy said his connection to his father is getting stronger.
"Now I look at my son who is 11-years-old and I see parts of me that are in him — and I see that he's better than me, and I see there are elements of my father in him. It's a continuity of spirit, purpose and meaning, and that can't die".
Retracing his father's journey
Guy's current project is a film called Family Circle, which retraces his father's story — from his childhood in Kansas City, to his military service in the Vietnam War, to his decision to move to Canada.
But his father's story is missing one key figure — Sol's dad never met his own father. And he's yet to find out who his grandfather was.
While learning about his family has been an important goal of the project, Guy said the real benefits have come out of what he has learned about himself.
"What I got to was a very universal truth, which is to understand my father's story at a greater depth, perhaps it would put me into a space of knowing myself better," said Guy.
"Perhaps being a better father, friend, collaborator, creator [and] human."