A Common Experience

MAY 4, 2021 - 7PM EST


a short film by Shane Belcourt


In 2008 the Government of Canada formally apologized for the treatment of Aboriginal people in the Indian Residential School system. In moving towards healing and reconciliation the government established the “Common Experience Payment”, a program that pays former students for their suffering. “A Common Experience” is a poetic look at the devastation this sad ongoing chapter has on multiple generations. It is the story of one applicant, Helen Thundercloud, as told through the eyes of her daughter, Yvette Nolan.


marilyn poitras

Marilyn Poitras has worked as a lawyer, law professor, a writer, a film producer, a negotiator, a facilitator, a public speaker, a commissioner, a consultant and a design thinker. Poitras has significant experience in self-government and treaty implementation across Canada with various Indigenous governments as and also with research on ancestral domain land conflict in Central Mindanao in the Philippines, through the Canadian International Development Agency.

As a student of Indigenous legal traditions, Poitras is grateful to have learned from Elders across the continent to earn an understanding of customary law. Her traditional teachers come from diverse nations including: Cree, Dene, Saulteaux, Michif and Inuit, Navaho, Crow and Pueblo, and her work on traditions and within community involves discussing and designing opportunities for Indigenous participation in the Canadian politic, in rural and urban issues and on inclusion of Indigenous voice, philosophy and laws in as many places as possible—all through an Indigenous perspective.