What does the number 504938C stand for? I found out while visiting a grade eleven English class this week where the student teacher I supervise is doing a unit on documentary films with her class. The documentary she showed the day of my visit was called 504938C. That is the number filmmaker Ervin Chartrand had when he was an inmate in Manitoba’s Stony Mountain Prison. In his short film he shows the choice he had to make upon leaving prison. Would he go back to join the gang he was part of before going to jail or would he try to walk a different path?
Before she showed the film the student teacher asked the kids to share what they knew about life in a prison. They came up with lots of ideas. Then she provided them with some factual information about Stony Mountain Penitentiary. Finally she posed these three questions. How did indigenous spirituality play a role in this documentary? What did you learn from the flashbacks in the film? What did you think of the lack of dialogue? The students were busy writing answers to the questions after the film was over.
You can watch the film yourself here. I told the student teacher I was impressed with the way she was introducing her class to topics relevant to their community and province and the way she was encouraging them to become thoughtful critical viewers of media.