“When we learned that story at school, we quite agreed with our priests and we thought it was okay, on the pretext that it was better for them and for their future. But we had it all wrong,” says Rémy Girard from the outset.

The story in question is that of systemic racism experienced by Indigenous peoples in Canada for decades. Through the character of Aline Spears – who survived her childhood in the residential school system to become a Cree code transmitter during the Second World War, and finally go to expose the abuses in the Vatican – we tell in The Shadow of the crows the treatment of these peoples, which left traces from generation to generation.

Upon reading the script, the one who put himself in the shoes of Father Jacobs immediately wanted to participate in the project carried out mainly by indigenous craftsmen. A great opportunity to participate in this great company of good storytelling, he explains. “Our characters are the wrong ones, let’s say. But those roles are important to play in order to fully understand what happened,” said Rémy Girard.

An almost entirely Indigenous crew surrounded Métis director Marie Clements during filming. A good lesson in humility for actors, tells us Karine Vanasse. “I remember, the first day on set, the assistant director who was directing me, he was an Indigenous person. It’s stupid, but just that, we’re not used to it. »

The film recounts the horrors, but also succeeds in highlighting the Aboriginal culture, its rituals and its traditions. “All the spiritual richness from which we cut ourselves off, the film gives it back so much value,” adds the actress. Rémy Girard, whom the scenes loaded with symbols have touched a lot, abounds in the same direction. “It’s a beauty!” Their way of being so close to their environment and being so inclined to help each other, it’s wonderful to see that. »

The portion of the film in which the two Quebec actors star was shot at the boarding school in Kamloops, British Columbia. The former facility has been in the news since 2021, when unmarked graves were found there. It goes without saying that this space is inhabited by its past. “There is a lot of wisdom in reclaiming places,” notes Karine Vanasse.

Healing was offered in case team members felt the aftershocks of difficult scenes. In addition to on-site psychologists, Indigenous elders performed smudging ceremonies every morning, every evening, and sometimes even between takes.

“It’s true, that,” Karine Vanasse intervenes. There was no fear of the story in which we were immersed because there was a confidence that it was well carried, well told. It’s a dark story, but on set it was bright. Light shone from everything. »

Should this concern for well-being inspire non-native artisans of the seventh art? What is certain is that the intention behind this film made it an enriching experience on all levels for those who participated in it.