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Tricks on the Dead
During the First World War, 85,000 Chinese labourers were secretly transported across Canada in locked CPR trains. They were on their way to the battlefields of Europe, where they would clear munitions and dead bodies from the Western Front. Most of the men were poor, recruited from Shandong province to support France and Britain in the distant war. Many died there - estimates range from 5,000 to 20,000 - but until recently they were largely forgotten. BC filmmaker Jordan Paterson delves into this little-known chapter of Canadian history in his new docudrama, Tricks on the Dead. The film, which combines dramatic re-enactments with diary entries from the front lines, follows Zhang Yan, a young researcher devoted to digging up the long-buried stories of the labourers and sharing them with their descendants.

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BC Filmmaker Jordan Paterson Talks Tricks on the Dead

“The stories and voices of those marginalized, exploited and underrepresented people of the past must be liberated through conscious anti-colonial, anti-war story telling that engage the legacies of the colonizers of land and minds. It is only in this way that the dead can find justice and give us a chance for peace today.” – Jordan Paterson

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