Considerations on “the Killing of Innocents” as a Documentary Subject

Films with a legitimate claim to the title “documentary” should have a sense of objectivity and be rooted in actual events. The word documentary, after all, refers to evidence observable outside anyone’s creative process. With any documentary, part of the creator’s contract with the audience is clear before even the audience takes its seat: in what they are about to see, viewers can expect information to have been given a higher value than entertainment or motivation. It does not follow from this that documentaries will be inherently boring.

A Tale of Two Peoples

Two nations. Occupying the same land. Separated by an invisible wall. A wall nevertheless as certain as bricks and mortar. So a Xatsull elder once described it to me. The Tsilhqot’in Chiefs’ Memorial recognizes this bi-jurisdictional reality in a small way. I discovered the reality for myself at a Tsilhqot’in function this spring.

Day One

I began by visiting the Tsilhqot’in Chief’s memorial. To remember, at first, all those who died. Tsilhqot’in or otherwise. The Tsilhqot’in have a central role in this story but it affects all British Columbia natives. Yet this marker, hidden away at Quesnel, is the only one I know of touching victims of the 1862 genocide.