Views / Opinion

8-year-old filmmaker proves Indigenous youth are thriving: Kabatay

When kids see other Indigenous Peoples as leaders doing good work, it can help inspire a new future. It shows the options are limitless.

Skateboarding Pants appear in two of Colton Willier's films.

Colton Willier / Vimeo

Skateboarding Pants appear in two of Colton Willier's films.

Before when I would think of the future, I often wondered if it would be better or worse than the present day.

But now, I don’t think it will be so horrible.

Colton Willier is a successful First Nations writer, director and animator. He just finished work on his second stop-motion animated film, with a third in the works. His work has been showcased at the imagineNATIVE Film + Arts Festival in Toronto and in London, England at the Native Spirit Film Festival. It’s also due to be screened at festivals in Edmonton and Los Angeles.

And he is just eight years old.

His second film Shirtnami is an animated film about T-shirts from the washer taking over a town. They are ultimately defeated by Skateboarding Pants, a character from his first film.

"This time I made it [the movie] in 12 hours with a broken arm," Colton told CBC News.

When I first read Colton’s incredible story and achievements, it made me think of what I was doing when I was around his age — or more so, not doing.

Growing up, I always loved film and television. I would watch anything and everything, analyze every scene and shot, researching the work that went into it. But I wasn’t one to actually pursue making my own film or even write my own script. It was never something I thought I could really pursue. Not like Colton did.

While I was fascinated with everything that went with it, I was discouraged. I physically didn’t have the tools, patience, or know-how to create my own project.

But maybe what I lacked more than anything were role models.

Looking at everything Colton has achieved at such a young age makes me excited for the future and the next generation of Indigenous youth. He is incredibly inspiring, not just to other youth, but to his community and adults like me.

Youth like Colton give back to communities without even realizing it. His achievements open the door for potential in others.

When Indigenous youth see other Indigenous Peoples as leaders doing good work, it can help inspire a new future. It shows the options are limitless. Indigenous people can be lawyers, doctors, journalists, and filmmakers, building on traditional knowledge to become leaders in any field.

It’s a far cry from the examples society and the government set for us historically. It gives us opportunities to thrive in ways that would disturb the “founders” of Canada — by mixing traditional and western ways.

Whatever Colton decides, I look forward to it. His talent can only lead him to bigger and better things, and in turn inspire more people and continue to make his people proud.

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