Who: Native Men’s Residence (Na-Me-Res) with Groundzero for creative.
What: “Resilience,” the first major branding/fundraising campaign for the Toronto organization, which started as an emergency shelter in 1985 and has since grown to provide temporary, transitional and permanent housing to Indigenous men experiencing homelessness in Toronto, as well as outreach and support services to the broader population.
When & Where: Along with the revamped Na-Me-Res website, the campaign launched on June 21, timed to coincide with National Indigenous People’s Day. It’s currently running on owned and operated assets, but a social campaign launching next month will drive to the long-form video.
Why: While it’s intended to alert viewers to the issue of Indigenous homelessness in Toronto, the campaign is also a fundraiser for what the organization describes as an “ambitious” year that includes three major new projects: Two new affordable housing units, as well as Ontario’s first Indigenous-led managed alcohol program.
How: The two-minute film demonstrates the many injustices perpetrated against Canada’s Indigenous peoples over the centuries, from having their land stolen and polluted; children forcibly taken away; to seeing their culture nearly erased. “Some may think we’re a broken people,” says the voiceover. “We are not.”
The spot also underscores the scope of the homelessness problem for Toronto’s Indigenous community: While making up just 0.5% of the city’s population, Indigenous people make up 15% of those experiencing homelessness.
The film showcases the role that Na-Me-Res has played in helping its clients find their “mino bimaadiziwin” (good life) by highlighting individuals who have successfully completed its life-skills Apaenmowineen program at Sagatay, a transitional housing dwelling in the city offering cultural programs and skills training.
The film was directed by David Tennant, from a script by creative director/writer Gary Watson, and award-winning Indigenous author Jesse Thistle—whose memoir From the Ashes, chronicling his life on the streets, was a national best-seller. The voiceover is by Chris Mejaki, a former Na-Me-Res client who is making his acting debut at the Stratford Festival this year, and who also appears in the video as a grass dancer.
And we quote: “Storytelling is an important part of our Indigenous culture. It’s how we share knowledge through our families and communities. The ‘Resilience’ video captures the story of how we use our culture to help our Indigenous brothers.” —Steve Teekens, executive director, Na-Me-Res