A prominent landmark in the Cowichan Valley, Mount Tzouhalem holds a powerful history of murder, revenge, power and pride
“Tzouhalem was one of many leaders in this community but he was the one that stood out the most,” said Cowichan Tribes member and Tzouhalem documentary writer and director Harold C. Joe.
Now, for the first time, the story of the infamous Cowichan chief is being shared with the world.
“When Harold first told me about this story my jaw was on the floor I could not believe a story like this had never been told before,” said film co-writer and director Leslie Bland.
The documentary recounts the life of Tzouhalem from birth to his violent death. First Nations elders and historians share the conflicted and complex story of the prominent war chief and provide historical context to popular island locations like Maple Bay. It was the site of a bloody battle won by the Cowichan Tribes in the 1800s, with Chief Tzouhalem at the helm.
“A lot of people talk about involving themselves in the process of reconciliation of decolonization and I think that starts with education,” said Bland.
Told in a unique style, the film’s interview subjects, like Joe and many others, are also the actors in the reenactments. And while a powerful story of the past it also brings in the future, showing how residential schools have impacted First Nations communities today and highlighting the need for self-governance.
CHEK will host the broadcast premiere of Tzouhalem, uncut and commercial-free, Sunday, March 13 at 8 p.m. and will stream it on CHEK Plus.