The Sharing Circle

Produced by Chikak Communications for National Defence & Canadian Forces—Junior Canadian Rangers with the Canadian Red Cross.

In some of Canada’s remote and isolated communities there are indicators of social dysfunction such as family violence, alcohol & substance abuse, and a high youth suicide rate. In many cases the only structured activity for youth is the Junior Canadian Ranger (JCR) program organized by the Department of National Defence. The aim of JCR is to promote traditional cultures/lifestyles and teach youth life skills. These include modules on unacceptable and/or acceptable behaviors having to do with peer harassment and the sensitive issue of child abuse.

English & French


Joe has organized a camping experience and opportunity for the recently appointed group of Junior Canadian Rangers to put their new skills to a test. The kids come from two separate communities; one from the Yukon the other from Northern Quebec. He’s knows most of the kids who are coming to the camp and that each of them may have experienced a difficult situation sometime in their personal lives. They’ve all agreed to participate in a sharing circle around a campfire on the first night, but will they share their stories. Will Joe’s plan to reach out and help these kids turn out to be a success or a failure?

JOE’S STORY – - – Joe has realized his goal of becoming a Canadian Ranger. However his path towards leading a successful productive life wasn’t an easy one. Growing up in a small isolated community on the shores of Hudson Bay he encountered more than his share of problems. The worst was when two of his cousins died as a result of sniffing gasoline. After years of blaming himself and continuing down a path of destruction he attempted suicide. It was at this lowest point of his life that he was asked by an elder in the community to participate in a sharing circle.


JASON’S STORY – - – After Joe’s speech, Jason the only one who hasn’t told a story pulls up his hat, leans back and breaths deeply. All eyes in the circle are on him when he gets up and reaches for the feather. He looks back at his mom, then to everyone in the group and says, “I think I need to talk. After my dad left us things got pretty tough. First my mom was crying all the time and then she started drinking. I first I felt happy for her, to get out, meet new friends, but then she got abusive. She started screaming at my sisters & me all the time…

PAM’S STORY – - – The camera slowly drifts to Pam’s hands. She is nervously twirling the feather between her hands as she listens to Joe. The camera pans up to her face staring into the fire. Joe continues “We must realize that we have the power to think with our minds and that we have the power to learn how to cope in these situations”. As Joe speaks, in the fire appears a little boy’s face staring at Pam in the circle. It’s her brother Mike complaining about being hungry. The scene dissolves to reveal Pam is helping Mike into bed. The room is sparse, dirty and dimly lit…


PETER’S STORY – - – Peter gets the courage to speak. In a low voice, “ I am ready to speak. I am ready to tell you why I keep to my self – why I don’t like being around people.” Every eye was on Peter, he sounded different, his voice was confident, it was a side of himself that he never revealed. He looked at everyone evenly. “I loved hockey. It was my life. When I was on the ice, my problems melted away. That was until I met Bill.” …