Canada’s Indian residential school legacy and the decimation of wild pacific salmon stem from a common story: a world where relationships are severed in the service of power, where people become detached from one another and the complex webs of interdependence. Among the Secwépemc in British Columbia, one such story is that of Phyllis Jack-Webstad, a residential school survivor whose experiences inspired the Orange Shirt Day movement. Returning Home follows Phyllis on a nation-wide educational tour, while her family struggles to heal multigenerational wounds at home in Secwépemc territory. In the midst of a global pandemic and the lowest salmon run in Canadian history, the film also explores the absence of salmon along the upper Fraser River, and how a multi-year fishing moratorium is tearing at the fabric of Secwépemc communities. By bearing witness to the trauma experienced by Phyllis and her family, Returning Home holds a mirror to the trauma experienced by the natural world, too. For the Secwépemc, healing people and healing the natural world are one and the same.
2021 • Canada • 72 min