Neil at Goodwin headstone

Neil at Goodwin headstone

Courtenay filmmaker documenting Goodwin

Crowdsourcing being used to fund documentary on Cumberland's famous activist

  • Jul. 29, 2015 2:00 p.m.

He was a rebellious labour activist, speaker and leader.

He arrived in Cumberland not once, but twice – the first time to work in the mines, and a second time to hide in the woods to avoid the draft.

He was elected vice-president of the British Columbia Federation of Labour, and president of the International Union of Mine, Mill and Smelter Workers.

His death – shot by a member of the Dominion Police who claimed self-defence – sparked the Vancouver general strike on Aug. 2, 1918 – a one-day general strike with about 5,500 workers walking off the job, including longshoreman and shipbuilders.

Ginger Goodwin’s impact on Cumberland stretches deep into its history, and Courtenay filmmaker Neil Vokey’s documentary Goodwin’s Way aims to show history has a way of repeating itself.

“I first heard of Ginger Goodwin from my high school teacher. It was casually relayed to me in school, and at (Capilano University) a teacher said the story would make a really good documentary,” Vokey said over the phone from Vancouver where he attends film school at the university.

“Through the research process, I could see how his history was quite rebellious, and it touches on so many important parts of (Cumberland’s) past, and my goal was to keep the story tethered to the present – it was a balancing act.”

His 60-minute digital film looks at Goodwin’s history and the community fighting for autonomy over its past and future.

He examined the oral tapestry of Goodwin – some who remember him as a criminal, and others who admire his ideals of equality and self-determination.

“I was learning the history (while making the film) – it’s entirely so complex,” noted Vokey. “(Goodwin) represents other injustices. There’s Goodwin the individual and Goodwin who can represent others in a broader sense.”

With the story shot, he turned to the crowdsourcing site Indiegogo to raise $12,000 to edit and finish the film. He said distribution of the completed film will be done the same way as it was told – at a grassroots level – but hopes to have the film featured in a variety of documentary film festivals across Canada.

“The film will be finished by the end of the year, and I’m hoping to have a launch party – I’m just figuring out the when and the where,” he added.

Vokey has raised $7,700 in one month, and has until the end of July to reach his goal. With more information on the film or to support the campaign, visit bit.ly/1U5h8PO