People & Culture

Can Geo Films documentary Returning Home to premiere at Canadian film festivals

Returning Home is the first feature-length documentary from director Sean Stiller and Canadian Geographic Films

  • Published Sep 09, 2021
  • Updated Oct 19, 2023
  • 427 words
  • 2 minutes
Expand Image

Canadian Geographic Films is thrilled to announce its first feature documentary film, Returning Home, will make its international debut at several Canadian film festivals this fall. 

Directed by Secwépemc filmmaker Sean Stiller, the film follows Orange Shirt Day founder Phyllis Jack-Webstad on a cathartic cross-Canada educational tour as her own family struggles to heal from multigenerational trauma. In the midst of a global pandemic and the lowest salmon run in Canadian history, Returning Home explores how a multi-year federal fishing moratorium is tearing at the very fabric of Secwépemc communities and traditions.

By observing the trauma experienced by Phyllis and her family, Returning Home holds a mirror to the trauma experienced by the natural world, too. For the Secwépemc, healing people and healing the natural world are one and the same.

Leading up to Canada’s first National Day of Truth and Reconciliation, Returning Home will have its world theatrical premiere at the Calgary International Film Festival on Sept. 29. It will also premiere at the Edmonton and Vancouver International Film Festivals that same week and be available online for pass holders of the Lunenburg Doc Fest beginning Sept. 26. 

Watch the trailer for Returning Home

Marie Wilson, who served as one of three commissioners of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada from 2009 to 2015, calls the film “stunning” and “heartfelt” in its recounting of the personal experiences of one of thousands of residential school survivors who came forward with their stories. 

“In giving voice to the salmon in parallel to Phyllis Webstad’s story, this beautiful and compelling film captures the heart of this intertwined relationship between humans and Mother Earth,” she says. “For all those now seeking pathways to reconciliation, it underscores our collective, human responsibility toward the lands, waters and ice that have shaped, defined and sustained distinct Indigenous peoples in the many homelands throughout Canada.” 

The film has already garnered award nominations, including for the DGC Best Canadian Documentary Award at CIFF and the Feature Documentary Award at Lunenburg Doc Fest. 

The filming of Returning Home was made possible in part by the Department of Canadian Heritage and the Government of Canada. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit the festival websites linked above and be sure to follow Canadian Geographic on Twitter.


Are you passionate about Canadian geography?

You can support Canadian Geographic in 3 ways:

Related Content

People & Culture

Kahkiihtwaam ee-pee-kiiweehtataahk: Bringing it back home again

The story of how a critically endangered Indigenous language can be saved

  • 6310 words
  • 26 minutes


Meet the 2015 Canadian Geographic Challenge participants

The Canadian Geographic Challenge, now in its 20th anniversary year, will bring 20 young…

  • 1691 words
  • 7 minutes

People & Culture

12 Canadian photographers share the nature they love

We asked some of Canada’s most accomplished photographers why they dedicate their time to capturing images of nature. Here’s what they said.

  • 4878 words
  • 20 minutes

People & Culture

Royal Canadian Geographical Society Awards 2020

Award recipients honoured in the first virtual Annual General Meeting and Fellows Show.

  • 2630 words
  • 11 minutes