We Make Stories Out of Totem Poles

This is a short film about my friend and honorary brother, Kwakwaka’wakw carver Charles Joseph, who carves his dreams (and sometimes his nightmares) into cedar.

Charles survived a particularly brutal residential school in Canada and, years later, is still repairing the damage that caused to him. His greatest carving, a 53 foot totem pole that now sits in front of the Montreal Museum of Fine Art (see http://bit.ly/2IqLnU7), is part of the process of that repair, aided by his engagement in the unique, beautiful and profound art of his tradition.

A few years ago, Charles helped me design a new third floor for my house in Toronto. We installed a number of custom totem poles and carvings on that floor, which was also a modernized version of a Kwakwaka’wakw communal big house. I used barn wood from my great-grandfather’s original barn from the original Peterson homestead in Saskatchewan for the walls. It’s a unique space (which I have been away from so much, given all my traveling in the last year) and it was a very engaging joint project. I learned a lot from the entire experience (which included a potlatch in Port Hardy, in the northern part of Vancouver Island).

I am happy to report that most of the terrible dreams and memories that have plagued Charles for so many years have disappeared.

Director Patricia Marcoccia’s Toronto-based production company Holding Space Films is currently producing a feature-length documentary film that follows our friendship.

More on Charles: http://charlesjoseph.ca/
More on Holding Space Films: https://www.holdingspacefilms.com/

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Jordan B Peterson

Dr. Jordan B Peterson is a professor and clinical psychologist. The videos are derived from two sources: 1. His UToronto courses Maps of Meaning (which describes how values, including beliefs about good and evil, regulate emotion and motivation); and Personality & Its Transformations (which describes psychological theories from Eliade, Jung, Freud, Rogers, Gray, Luria, Sokolov, Vinogradova, Panksepp, Nietzsche, Kierkegaard, and Solzhenitsyn as well as psychometric models such as the Big Five). 2. His public lectures on topics of general psychological relevance, including the meaning of music, the significance of hero mythology, and the structure of the world as represented in religion.