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Secret history of illegal aboriginal segregation revealed in “The Pass System”

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A little-known dark chapter in Canadian history is brought to light in a new documentary directed by Canadian filmmaker Alex Williams. The Green Film Series presents “The Pass System” at the Gibsons Heritage Playhouse, Saturday May 14 and at the Sechelt Indian Band Hall on Wednesday
May 18.

The Pass System illuminates Canada’s hidden history of racial segregation. For over 60 years, the Canadian government willfully and illegally denied Indigenous peoples the basic freedom to leave their reserves without a pass and jailed them if they did not comply.  

'The Pass System' poster - screening Wed May 18, SIB Hall, Sat May 14, Gibsons Heritage PlayhouseCree, Soto, Dene, Ojibwe and Blackfoot elders of the prairie land where this took place tell their stories of living under and resisting the system, and link their experiences to today.  

“....the real information was to be found in the stories of how this system affected people; the First Nations who had to ask for passes to go hunting on their traditional territory, to sell their grain, to get married, or to visit their children taken from them to residential schools” explains director Alex Williams, who spent 5 years researching and travelling to reserves.  

Acclaimed Cree actor and activist Tantoo Cardinal narrates the documentary, with music by aboriginal cellist and composer Cris Derksen. 

The screening in Gibsons will be at the Heritage Playhouse Saturday May 14 at 7:30pm, and in Sechelt at the SIB Hall on Wednesday May 18, at 7:30pm. Admission is by donation at the door (suggested $10). For more information go to

Green Film Series events are meant to foster the role of film as a catalyst for dialogue, networking and action, encouraging community engagement on environmental and sustainability issues. The series is produced by the Rhizome Up! Media Society.