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A Cedar Is Life

Directed by:

Leslie D. Bland & Harold C. Joe


90 minutes

A Cedar Is Life explores the species that stands at the center of West Coast Indigenous culture, the ongoing relationship between the people and “The Tree of Life,” and the threats to its continued existence.


Saturday, October 28, 2023 at 1:00 PM

Sunday, October 29, 2023 at 1:00 PM


On-Demand (Worldwide). October 30 - November 5

A Cedar Is Life Official Trailer

This film is sponsored by:



Follow the journey of Archeological Consultant and Cultural Worker Harold C. Joe as he discovers more about the cedar. 


Through interviews with elders, mask carvers, medicinal harvesters, canoe makers, totem carvers, cedar bark weavers, those working with traditional food and cooking, and other hands-on practitioners along the West Coast, from Cowichan to Haida Gwaii, who speak about their crafts, we learn how all parts of the tree are important and useful.


Woven throughout the interviews is the image of Cedar Woman, based on a Cowichan legend, highlighting the importance of cedar’s spirit, existing as a living entity. The film investigates the evolution of artistic practice, comparing modern techniques and traditional methods, while highlighting the importance of protecting cedar trees. Cedars bridge cultural gaps today, Passing down knowledge to the next generation is essential to promote cultural strength in Indigenous communities.

A Cedar Is Life



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Leslie D. Bland

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Harold C. Joe

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Harold C. Joe

Harold, a member of the Cowichan Tribes, dedicates himself to preserving and sharing the Cowichan culture as a cultural worker, archaeology consultant, filmmaker, and producer. A Capilano Film School alumnus, his notable works include his role as Xavier in the sitcom "Ollie and Emma" and contributions to "1491: The Untold Story of the Americas Before Columbus." He directed documentaries like "Wisdom of the River" and "Broken Down," addressing cultural values and homelessness challenges, respectively.

In 2018, Harold's significant project, "Dust 'n Bones," showcased his efforts in preserving First Nations artifacts and remains. This documentary, widely recognized, has been featured on channels worldwide and will soon be integrated into Cowichan school curricula.

His recent works include "Tzouhalem," a portrayal of the famed Cowichan Chief, and "A Cedar Is Life," a deep dive into the cedar tree's significance to West Coast First Nations culture. Additionally, his films, "The Reclamation of Steve Joe" and "Pow Wow Summer," are set for production in 2022. Harold is involved in multiple projects, including the "Gold in the Valley" documentary.

Above all, Harold champions the importance of transferring oral traditions and cultural insights to younger generations and aims to enlighten society about First Nations' identity.

Leslie D. Bland

Leslie has made significant contributions to the world of entertainment, having been involved in over 150 projects spanning film, TV, radio, and theatre. He directed the female-centric comedy "She Kills Me" for APTN and helmed the documentary "Gone South: How Canada Invented Hollywood" for Super Channel. From 2001 to 2010, Leslie rejuvenated the Kaleidoscope Theatre in Victoria, BC, elevating its community profile and achieving record attendance. Under his leadership, the theatre garnered several accolades and toured both nationally and internationally.

As a co-founder and Executive Producer of Edmonton's Stage Polaris for 12 years, Leslie played a pivotal role in its evolution into Edmonton's second-largest theatre company. He contributed to over 100 productions, and under his tenure, Polaris clinched multiple Edmonton Sterling Awards.

Leslie's vast experience extends to several professional theatres across Canada, such as the National Arts Centre and Theatre Calgary. His academic achievements include a B.F.A. from the University of Alberta, certifications from the Royal Conservatory of Music, and an M.F.A. from the University of Victoria. He has lectured internationally, taught at multiple universities, and currently instructs at the University of Victoria Theatre Department.



Gavin Andrews

Leslie D. Bland

Harold Joe


Leslie D. Bland

Harold Joe


Leslie D. Bland

Harold Joe

Executive Producers

Bonnie Hughson

Barbara Osberg


Alexander Brendan Ferguson


Gavin Andrews, Director Of Photography

Mathew Gladman (camera operator)

Emily Robertson (camera operator)

Sound Department

Evan Matthiesen

Malcolm Owen-Flood

Daniel Taggart-Hodge

Costume and Wardrobe Department

Misty Buxton, Wardrobe

Editorial Department

Gavin Andrews, Editor

Leslie D. Bland, Post Production Supervision

Bonnie Hughson, Post Production Supervision

Additional Crew

Carla Belas, Production Assistant

Bonnie Hughson, Production Assistant

Colin Preston, Image Research

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