Casting Announced and Production Begins on Marie Clements’ Bones of Crows

Courtesy of CBC, credit: Farah Nosh

Ayasew Ooskana Pictures announced on Wednesday morning that production is underway on the new original five-part psychological drama (5X60) and feature film Bones of Crows, commissioned by CBC/Radio-Canada in association with APTN. Created by Marie Clements, the character-driven series features an ensemble cast of talent including Grace Dove (Monkey Beach), Philip Lewitski (Wildhood), Glen Gould (Cold Pursuit), Michelle Thrush (Pathfinder), Gail Maurice (Night Raiders), Cara Gee (The Expanse), Karine Vanasse (Cardinal), Angus Macfadyen (Robert The Bruce), Rémy Girard (District 31), Graham Greene (Mollys Game) and Lorne Cardinal (Corner Gas).

Bones of Crows is told through the eyes of Cree Matriarch Aline Spears as she survives a childhood in Canada’s residential school system to continue her family’s generational fight in the face of systemic starvation, racism, and sexual abuse. She uses her uncanny ability to understand and translate codes into working for a special division of the Canadian Air Force as a Cree code talker in World War II. The story unfolds over 100 years with a cumulative force that propels us into the future.

“Both myself and my producing partners are committed to bringing together the brightest minds and strongest hearts — leading Indigenous artists and actors, with leading non-Indigenous artists and actors, to tell a shared story that is uniquely Canadian, undeniably Indigenous and universally human. The intent is to execute an unapologetic vision and cinematic experience that gives voice to the residential school experience which is still being recovered, while also celebrating the resilience and hope that has always been us,“ says Marie Clements.

“As executive producers, we are honoured to work with someone as talented as Marie Clements to bring the story of Bones of Crows to the screen. She is one of the most gifted visionaries we have worked with in our careers and is undaunted and unflinching in her portrayal of the history and legacy of Canada’s residential schools,” said executive producers Trish Dolman, Christine Haebler and Sam Grana. “We are working with the Indigenous Screen Office and adhering to the On Screen Protocols and Pathways to bring Marie’s scripts to the screen and we are thankful to our funders and partners for their support in this endeavour.”

The project will be shot originally in English, with Cree and Ayajuthem spoken in key scenes and there will be both Cree and French-language versions for broadcast. Filming locations include: the Thompson-Nicola Region (Kamloops, Vernon, Quilchena), Greater Victoria Area, and Greater Vancouver Area in British Columbia, and Winnipeg, Manitoba. The Winnipeg portion of production will be produced by Eagle Vision. 

“It is vital to share Indigenous history, perspectives and storytelling with authenticity of voice, and we are honoured to partner with Marie Clements and this outstanding cast and creative team to bring Bones of Crows to audiences across the land. Alongside our colleagues at Radio-Canada, we will offer this powerful, layered story in English, French and Cree, and in both limited series and feature film formats,” said Sally Catto, General Manager, Entertainment, Factual & Sports, CBC.

ʺOffering high-quality stories immersed in the culture and experience of Canada’s First Nations is a continued priority for Radio-Canada and the CBC. We are proud to be associated with Marie Clements Media and its partners to bring about this fascinating limited series and feature film to audiences,ʺ added Dany Meloul, General Manager, Radio-Canada Television.

“For over 21 years, APTN has been providing a platform for Indigenous Peoples to share their stories in their voices,” says APTN CEO Monika Ille. “Bones of Crows shows us the beauty of our stories, even as it tells of our struggles. Our hope is that this production will give audiences the opportunity to reflect on the way that our histories of trauma have made us who we are today, and advance meaningful conversations about reconciliation.”

BONES OF CROWS is a CBC/Radio-Canada original production, produced with the financial participation of Telefilm Canada, Canada Media Fund, APTN , Independent Production Fund, Shaw Rocket Fund, Bell Fund, ISO (Indigenous Screen Office), FIBC, CAVCO, and First Peoples’ Heritage, Language and Cultural Council and Indigenous Arts Program.

BONES OF CROWS is produced, written and directed by Marie Clements (Red Snow, The Road Forward), executive produced by Trish Dolman & Christine Haebler (French Exit, Indian Horse) and Sam Grana (The Boys of St. Vincent) with Executive Producers Lisa Meeches and Kyle Irving from Eagle Vision and the DOP is Vince Arvidson (The Magnitude of All Things).