Peaceleaders from Ahtahkakoop Cree Nation © Courtesy of I Love First Peoples
It is said new beginnings are often disguised as painful endings.
As Iain transitioned into the spirit world so unexpectedly to us, friends across Turtle Island spoke of a fallen feather.
With boundless energy, Iain promoted allyship and healing for youth and their communities. He sought daily to push the boundaries of advocacy through the nonprofit he cofounded, I Love First Peoples (ILFP). Undoubtedly, his proudest achievement will have been his last, the highly successful tour of 25 communities and cities in B.C. of the acclaimed Bones of Crows film prior to its cinematic release in June, and presently a five-part miniseries on CBC and APTN.
Bones of Crows and other films like Indian Horse that Iain also toured to remote communities nationally were essential to advancing reconciliation, as Canadians need to understand the harsh realities that residential school survivors have faced—the weight of which they and their communities continue to bear today. Within the communities, the film and conversations with elders and the film cast allowed audiences to better understand the impacts of generational trauma.
“His love for Bones of Crows was genuinely astronomical and we will miss his passion and dedication. Iain’s tireless work to support ILFP has provided opportunity for healing across countless lives. Iain’s work as our National Tour Director in Western Canada during our community screenings not only gave Indigenous communities the chance to see the film, but also provided comfort and assistance in their journey towards healing.” – Trish Dolman, President, Screen Siren Pictures Inc.
“It’s unique to meet someone like Iain who led with his heart to create change through action. Very grateful for his commitment to Bones of Crows and for the kindness and love he gave to our performers and communities as they brought our film to audiences across Canada.” – Marie Clements, BOC writer/director.
“Our beloved Iain brought so many nations and people from all walks together in hopes of restoring spirit and love within our beings. He was a part of us, and we have been truly blessed.”
– Gaypaygw’m Ganauu (Pansy Wright-Simms), Gitxsan Nation
For Iain, touring brought the added joy of meeting a kindred spirit—then 11-year-old actor Summer Testawich, who plays the leading role of Aline as a young girl. Together with Summer’s mother, she and Iain travelled to many nations. Iain marvelled at the light Summer carried; recognizing in her a part of himself, they developed a unique bond of friendship.
Today, as we set our sights on new beginnings, we are grateful to welcome Summer as ILFP National Youth Ambassador. Summer is a brilliant actor and a multitalented, inspirational leader with wisdom beyond her years. As an avid sewer, she is poised to inspire the thousands of youths enrolled in our sewing skills labs across 20 community schools.
“Working with ILFP allows me to motivate youth across Canada, help them believe in themselves, find their passion and live with purpose,” said Summer. While a feather has fallen, we know it is held in good hands for future generations. “Iain will always hold a special place in my heart and as my ancestors guide me, Iain will always walk beside us.”
– Forever in our hearts
Josée Lusignan, life partner and ILFP president
Massey Whiteknife, friend and ILFP executive co-lead
With Summer, our board and program coordinators
I Love First Peoples empowers Indigenous children and youth to succeed through education and the motivation to stay in school. We bridge communities through practical projects that promote reconciliation and education. Through our celebrity platform, we also raise awareness about reconciliation across Canada and around the globe.