Featuring: Charlene SanJenko & Wenecwtsin, Wayne Christian
Director & Impact Producer: Charlene SanJenko
Co-directors & Co-producers: Willow Smith, Madeline Archibald
Cinematographer & Editor: Madeline Archibald
Assistant Cinematographer: Willow Smith
Additional cinematography by: Terran Tasci, Kelly Veltri, Anika Syskakis (Wandering Docs, RavenSpeak), Kaylyn McLachlan
Original music composed by: Ecko Aleck, Sacred Matriarch Productions | Aerial Sunday-Cardinal | Brenda MacIntyre, Medicine Song Woman
Archival images provided by: The Union of BC Indian Chiefs
Title: Coming Home For the Children
Genre: Short documentary
Production Year: 2023
Country of Origin: Canada
Shooting format: Digital
Run Time: 45 minutes, 37 seconds
Aspect Ratio: 16:9
Sound Format: Stereo
First-time filmmaker: Yes
An Indigenous adult-adoptee returns to her rural home community after building an unlikely friendship with a seven-term Chief, brought together by Spirit to explore a forty-year journey of hope, healing, forgiveness, and coming home to our whole selves for the children now and seven generations into the future.
In 1980, newly elected Chief and foster care survivor Wayne Christian led the Indian Child Caravan in a fight for Indigenous Peoples’ rights over the jurisdiction of their children. At the same time, Charlene SanJenko was 11 years old, being raised in a non-Indigenous home. She didn’t know it then, but Chief Wayne was fighting for the rights she lost as a young child in foster care.
More than 40 years later, Chief Wayne and Charlene meet for the first time and begin an unlikely friendship, exploring sacred spaces in both the Splatsin Nation and the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Nation, and experiencing the importance of intergenerational healing, touching the pain, and what it truly means to come home to our whole selves for the children.
Coming Home For the Children is a short documentary profiling a seven-term former First Nations Chief, Wayne Christian, and hosted by adult-adoptee and foster care survivor, Charlene SanJenko.
Filmed in the scenic valley of the Splatsin Nation, the southernmost tribe of the Secwepemc Nation in the interior of British Columbia, the film travels back and forth between two parallels: the reclaiming of the meaning of “home” for both Charlene and Chief Wayne as their meet for the first time in the Splatsin Nation; and our responsibility - as adults and parents - to intergenerational healing for the children. This was modeled by parents, grandparents, and a young Chief back in 1980 with the Indian Child Caravan led by Chief Wayne himself. The Caravan marched across British Columbia in a fight for Indigenous peoples’ rights over the jurisdiction of their children, at which time Charlene was 11 years old and unaware of Chief Wayne’s advocacy for the very same rights she had lost as a child in foster care.
As Charlene continues on her journey of reclaiming her Indigenous identity, and as Chief Wayne recounts the significant moments in his lifetime of leadership commitment for the children, the two meet for the first time and begin an unlikely friendship, which grows into a joint body of work ready to be shared with others to help our Nation heal..
We are invited to join their exploration of sacred spaces in both the Splatsin Nation and the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Nation, experiencing the importance of intergenerational healing, touching the pain, and what it truly means to come home to our whole selves.