A film crew will soon be in the Cowichan Valley to conclude a feature documentary on the Valley’s iconic Cowichan Chief Tzouhalem.
Leslie Bland, from Less Bland Productions, an award-winning film and television company located in Victoria, said the documentary will examine the near-mythic figure of Chief Tzouhalem through interviews and creative re-enactments.
Chief Tzouhalem was a Quamichan warrior who, in 1844, led a historically documented attack on Fort Victoria, among other legendary exploits.
The Cowichan Valley’s Mount Tzouhalem was named for him after he lived his final years on the side of the mountain after being banished by his own people.
“Chief Tzouhalem was a really interesting person who, among other things, was a key figure in the Battle of Maple Bay (in which an alliance of Coast Salish groups engaged in a maritime canoe battle against the Kwakwaka’wakw Lekwiltok at Maple Bay in the mid-nineteenth century),” Bland said.
“We’ll be investigating Chief Tzouhalem’s history and the legends around him, and we’ll also be exploring how his story came to us. Did it come to us from the colonists’ perspective, or from the voices of the First Nations? There are different accounts of his life and the documentary will be a critical examination of the stories, not just straight-up history. We will hear accounts of his life and times from First Nations, elders, and historians.”
Bland said LBP is producing the documentary through its affiliated First Nations’ controlled production company Drama Camp Productions, a joint venture between Cowichan filmmaker Harold C. Joe and LBP.
Joe is a member of Cowichan Tribes who has, over the years, worked as a cultural consultant, archeology assistant, resource management technician and documentary filmmaker.
In 2018, Drama Camp Productions produced Dust n’ Bones, a documentary that brings to light the legal, political, historical and spiritual challenges faced by First Nations leaders and archaeologists as they fight to give disinterred ancestors their proper reverence.
Dust n’ Bones has been broadcast around the world, has received theatrical distribution at local venues, and is now being screened throughout the Gulf Islands to aid in reconciliation efforts.
“Following a pause in production due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the filming of Tzouhalem will commence in mid-July, with the projected completion of the documentary at the end of December,” Bland said.
The documentary is supported by the Canada Media Fund and will be broadcast on CHEK TV and Super Channel following a theatrical release.