“For you Flora”: building bridges to healing

The series “Pour toi Flora”, which retraces for the first time on the small screen the heritage of the residential schools in Quebec, settles on ICI TOU.TV this Thursday.


Hard to watch at times, this series directed and produced by Indigenous creators is badly needed and wonderfully executed. It also contains a lot of light.

Available in six episodes, “Pour toi Flora” revisits the journey of young Anishinaabe (Algonquins) who were torn from their parents’ arms by the Oblates in the 1960s so that they could integrate the network of Aboriginal boarding schools to be assimilated there. Decades later, Flora (Dominique Pétin), now a very religious woman, and her brother Rémi (Marco Collin), who wants to have his autobiography published, try to make peace with their past.


This fiction – very real – reunited on screen in particular Virginie Fortin, Antoine Pilon, Samian, Eve Ringuette, Théodore Pellerin, Jean-Carl Boucher, Sophie Desmarais, Jean L’Italien and André Robitaille, who embodies Father Bédard at the head of the boarding school where Flora and her brother are sent.

A bad guy, a detestable man in a black robe, very stern, but was pretty fun to play. The experienced actor admitted to having quickly befriended young actors Sara Rankin Kistabish (Flora in 1960), Russell Flamand (Rémi in 1960), Jonah Bacon (David in 1960) and Charlotte Pashagumeskum ( Odile in 1960) who had their first filming experience.

“The fact that I play the antagonist, it was necessary to create a bond immediately with the children. We were very accomplices and you have to be very accomplices when you have to molest someone physically or verbally. [dans le cadre d’une scène]. It becomes your friend on set and it’s important to be confident. We had a very good bond with the four children. I played and I drew with them, all four paws on the ground,” he said with a smile during an interview.


As with all characters, that of Father Bédard had certain pitfalls to avoid. “There are dangers in running out of nuance, playing just one color, just playing the haze. I worked on his conviction. He doesn’t know he’s mean. He does it through his faith, his religious beliefs, his commitment as a businessman who runs that boarding school. I had to give him reasons [de faire ce qu’il fait] to play it better and nuance it,” said André Robitaille, adding that the production team provided the actors in the series with fairly complete files on the socio-historical context and current events surrounding the Indian residential schools for their preparation.

In addition to the acting coaches, to guide the young actors, the set also had cultural consultants, two elders, Norman Kistabish and Émily Mowatt, who helped the actors (native and non-native) with the Anishinaabe language. Among other things, they translated the texts to facilitate the expression of the replies.

Screenwriter and director Sonia Bonspille Boileau collected many testimonies from survivors, but also drew inspiration from the story of her own family to create the series. Being from an English-speaking community, her grandfather and the latter’s sisters were sent, at the time, to a boarding school in Ontario, but it was in Quebec that the director wanted to tell the story.

“It was important for me to do the series here, in French, because I found that it was in Quebec that we knew the least about residential schools,” argued Ms. Bonspille Boileau.


Although the name of the boarding school where the series takes place is not specifically named, the project of assimilation by religion and the abuse experienced by the residents such as physical, psychological and sexual violence were the same in all the establishments of the network of residential schools for natives in Canada, she also recalled.

“For you Flora” will be available on ICI TOU.TV’s EXTRA from Thursday. The series should also occupy a prominent place in the schedule of ICI TÉLÉ and APTN during an upcoming TV season.


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