Karin and Mike McCarty | Knowledge.ca

Karin and Mike McCarty

September 2010

The trip from Karin and Mike McCarty's Summerland home to Vancouver for the screening of Our First Voices was more than just a nice way to get away for a few days. For Karin, it was another opportunity to reconnect with her family heritage.

Karin began digging deeper into her family's roots two years ago, when she stumbled across a photo of her great-grandmother, Janimetga (Jane) Jeameya, on the Gabriola Island website. Jane, a full-blood Cowichan whose father and brother were chiefs, married an Irish man named Thomas Degnen and moved to Gabriola where they were among the first settlers.

The website photo spurred Karin's Degnen side of the family to plan a reunion; then a cousin decided to contact the Cowichan side. The result was a huge gathering of more than 250 members of Karin's extended family on Gabriola last summer. Rediscovering the Cowichan side of her family was a very powerful experience for Karin.

She had similar feelings when she watched Our First Voices. "When I think about the part of the film with the young woman writing a song for her baby and singing it to her in her 'first voice', it just gives me goose bumps. It's a subject very close to my heart. I think it's important for people to see what First Nations' people are doing to help themselves."

The evening reinforced the way the couple feels about Knowledge, and why they've chosen to support it: "I think films like this open people's understanding of life", says Karin. "That's what Knowledge has always done for me."

Her husband, Mike, agrees: "It not only edifies you, it broadens your perspective. Knowledge is a true window on the world."

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