Stress, fear and anxiety are gently eased from a room filled with residents and caregivers at the Territorial Dementia Centre in Yellowknife, when a harpist comes to visit. Long known for its soothing qualities, a harp's strings vibrate for a long time, so they are able to quickly fill a space with their peaceful tones. The harpist describes the music as "a form of love," which she's able to give, and receive, by regularly volunteering her performances.
France Benoit is a Yellowknife film director who feels more comfortable giving than receiving. The Art of Giving Project started with a short film about volunteers offering footbaths to the homeless (Hand to Toe, Hot Docs 2011). The idea to bring more acts of giving to light took hold, growing to 17 films – including the NFB short Farewell Touch – as well as original works by other Yellowknife artists. Her past documentaries, in both French and English, have strong themes of social justice and environmental awareness. She and her husband try to live as sustainably as possible in the boreal forest outside of Yellowknife: pumping their water from the lake, heating their home with wood, growing as much food as the cold weather allows, and drawing energy from the sun.
Gary Milligan has been a Yellowknife resident since 1957. He began his professional career in film and video production in 1979, after graduating from the Emily Carr College of Art in Vancouver. “Itʼs my passion.” he says. “As long as my eyes continue to see, my ears continue to hear, and my hands are able to operate cameras and computers, Iʼll continue as best I can to help other people share their stories and visions.”