Bee Nation

The First Ever First Nations Provincial Spelling Bee in Canada

Students in Saskatchewan compete in the first province-wide First Nations Spelling Bee, trying to make their way to the national championship. There's only one way to spell success but many ways to define it in this emotional and captivating film.

William Kaysaywaysemat III from Kahkewistahaw First Nation, Saskatchewan competes at his first Spelling Bee of Canada championship in Toronto

William Kaysaywaysemat III from Kahkewistahaw First Nation, Saskatchewan competes at his first Spelling Bee of Canada championship in Toronto

The Film

Bee Nation is a Canadian documentary produced and directed by Lana Šlezić. The film follows the inspirational stories of six students in the first-ever First Nations Provincial Spelling Bee in Canada. Through the eyes of students, parents and educators, we learn of the challenges and opportunities awaiting the First Nations students in Saskatchewan as they strive to make it to the National Championships in Toronto; the highs, the lows, and everything in between.

Out on the breathy landscapes of Saskatchewan Reserves, we go ice fishing on a school outing, we revel in a dance at a powwow, we see best friends study together and we hover in the excitement as the day draws nearer. We see the hardships our characters face but we also feel the love and support that exists within the family home. We are drawn in by the intimacy of family life on the reserve set against a backdrop of vast and beautiful landscapes. And as we spend time with the children who will compete, we find ourselves investing in them, cheering for them and wanting them to succeed.

And they do! They all do because it is not about the winning. It is about the journey, the facing of fears and the growth that results. Competition gives us the chance to succeed and the opportunity to fail. And when we are up on stage, whatever stage that may be in our lives, we are exposed. To be exposed is to be vulnerable and in vulnerability we are all the same. When those kids quiver up on stage, we quiver with them. When they thrive, we do as well.

The future of our children is common ground we can all agree is paramount to a better world.