About the Film




The Story

Jingle Dress – First Dance chronicles Jules Koostachin’s (Cree, Attawapiskat) six-year quest to dance at a pow wow for the first time in a sacred healing Jingle Dress. Jules’ journey honors her mother who was held against her will as a child for ten years in the Canadian Native Residential School system and her grandmother who didn’t understand that the horrific, abusive system was a deliberate tool of assimilation.

Recognizing the pain and suffering caused by physical, sexual and psychological abuses that happened to children who were taken from their families over the course of more than a century, the Federal Government of Canada formally apologized to Residential School survivors in 2008. As part of the settlement, a Truth and Reconciliation Commission inspired by that of South Africa was established. Jingle Dress – First Dance was invited to screen three times at the seventh and final hearings in Edmonton, 2014. Audience response was overwhelmingly positive – a wonderful acknowledgement of Jules’ decision to include a non-First Nations person as her witness to this story.

Supported by Canada Council for the Arts, Jingle Dress – First Dance is a victory story. In addition to healing the women in her family, Jules had a personal goal: lift herself away from the struggles of being an urban single mother at the end of one career path. Furthering her education at an institution named after one of the policy architects of the Residential School System was only made more poignant by the awards she received. The extent that Jules needed to go to pursue resolve shows in a very personal way how the impact of Indian Residential schools still affects survivors, their families and communities to this day.


The Filmmaker

James Buffin is a filmmaker with over 25 years experience, working on movies, tv shows, commercials, music videos and documentaries shooting across North America, South America, Asia and the South Pacific. The theme of his current work is disaster/recovery, both environmental and personal.  Current projects include a feature length documentary about becoming an aware survivor of childhood sexual abuse. Having taught for many years with organizations like Planet In Focus, LIFT Toronto and Workman Arts, he recently expanded his company, Veritus Pictures,  to include video workshops in Toronto’s East End.