ichannel’s Your Money Or Your Life nominated for Rockie Award

May 8th, 2014


ichannel, Canada’s leading public affairs network, has received a 2014 Rockie Award nomination for its original webseries Your Money Or Your Life.

A companion to the ichannel documentary of the same name, Your Money Or Your Life has been nominated in the Best Webseries Non-Fiction category.

Your Money Or Your Life investigates the suffering that many new immigrants and refugees experience when they try to access Canada’s health system. The webseries features interviews with immigrants, refugees and some of the health professionals across Canada dedicated to providing care for the uninsured.

The Your Money Or Your Life website, launched in May 2013 at ymoyl.ichannel.ca, also features the complete documentary, along with a one-of-a-kind interactive “clinic finder” feature that helps immigrants and refugees locate the medical and health services available to them in their regions.

Award-winning filmmaker Kevin O’Keefe (Milk War, Bad Habits) produced the documentary and webseries for ichannel.

“Most Canadians aren’t even aware that as many as half a million people in this country have no access to public health care,” Mr. O’Keefe says. “We made the film and its online companion so that their voices would be heard.”

The Rockie Awards is one of the world’s most important program competitions, celebrating the “best of the best” of television and digital media content from across the globe. The 2014 nominees can be previewed here.

Winners will be announced at the Banff World Media Festival in June.

The documentary film Your Money Or Your Life was produced with the support of the Canada Media Fund. The complementary website was created with the support of the CMF’s Convergent Digital Incentive Program.

ichannel remembers Alex Colville: 1920-2013

July 18th, 2013


Alex Colville, one of Canada’s most celebrated contemporary artists, died this week at the age of 92. ichannel honours his memory next week with a special airing of the documentary Portraits Of War, which looks back at Colville’s formative wartime experiences. Here’s the official announcement.

TORONTO, July 18, 2013: ichannel, a national television information service devoted to exploring political and social issues, will celebrate the life and legacy of renowned Canadian painter Alex Colville with a special broadcast of the documentary Portraits Of War on July 24.

Colville, one of this country’s most celebrated contemporary artists, died on July 16 at his home in Wolfville, N.S. He was 92.

Produced by Toronto-based Stornoway Productions, Portraits Of War offers an intimate look at Colville’s experiences with the Canadian Army during World War Two. As a military artist, he documented the troop landings at Normandy on D-Day, and was there as Allied forces pressed on into Germany.

Colville acknowledged that these wartime experiences powerfully influenced his later artistic work, informing the subtle sense of dread that often seemed to lurk just beneath the surface of even his most tranquil-seeming tableaux.

In Portraits Of War, Colville’s story is intertwined with that of another Canadian who documented the reality of World War Two: Harold Morden, a combat evacuation medic and amateur photographer whose candid pictures – snapped on the fly, when the Military Police weren’t watching – captured the nature of life on the front lines in ways that few civilians have ever seen.

The paths of Colville and Morden would eventually cross, on one of the war’s darkest days. Both men were among the few Canadians present when the Allies liberated the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, and bore witness that day to evidence of unimaginable depravity. It would change them forever.

ichannel presents Portraits Of War on Wednesday July 24 at 9 pm and Midnight ET. The documentary repeats on Saturday July 27 at 9 pm and 1 am ET.


Recovering Our Honour: A Special ichannel Event

March 26th, 2013


RECOVERING OUR HONOUR is a four-part documentary series that asks how we can bridge the growing divide between civil society and the military. Filmed in Canada, the U.S. and the U.K., this thought-provoking series airs in ichannel’s prime time idocs slot the week of April 8. Here’s the official announcement:

During the Canadian combat mission in Afghanistan, people of all ages would line Ontario’s famed Highway of Heroes to pay respect as convoys passed carrying the bodies of fallen soldiers. It was a powerful symbol of the bond between ordinary Canadians and our men and women in uniform.

But are symbols enough? Has our military, in fact, grown estranged from the very society it protects?

RECOVERING OUR HONOUR: Building The Bond Between Citizens And Soldiers is a four-part documentary series that considers the state of civil-military relations today in Canada, the U.S. and Great Britain. Why do we have a military? What is it for – and what is our responsibility, as citizens, to those who serve in the armed forces? Most important, how can we strengthen the ties between the military and civilian worlds?

Recovering Our Honour airs on ichannel from Monday April 8 to Thursday April 11 at 9 pm and Midnight ET. The series is hosted by Senator Pamela Wallin.

Recovering Our Honour is produced by Breakout Educational Network in association with Stornoway Productions.


Monday April 8 – In The Beginning: Citizen Soldier
At a time when the military is largely invisible in much of the country, the Canadian Forces reserves can act as a “positive footprint” for the armed forces in our communities and workplaces. This documentary examines the experiences of reservists – the part-time volunteers who have become the backbone of the Canadian armed forces.

Tuesday April 9 – Leadership Lost: No Country For Young Men
Through much of the 20th century, Canadian universities hosted leadership and officer training for the country’s armed forces, helping to forge an important link between the military and civil society. Then, during the social upheaval of the 1960s, these university officer training programs were abolished. This documentary takes a look back at a lost tradition.

Wednesday April 10 – Leadership Found: For Queen & Country
While officer training programs at Canadian universities are long defunct, the tradition continues in the U.K., where the Officer Training Corps provides teaching in leadership skills for hundreds of students each year. This documentary asks why the OTC is considered the best club on campus – and whether such a program could work in Canada today.

Thursday April 11 – Leadership Renewed: Bridging The Gap
In the U.S., civil-military relations have reached a crisis point. Most Americans know little about their military, and few members of the country’s leadership class have any experience serving in uniform. The military, meanwhile, sees itself increasingly as a world apart. This documentary asks how the bond between U.S. citizens and soldiers became so badly frayed, and considers one hopeful sign of change: the re-emergence of the Reserve Officer Training Corps program, which was dropped by many Ivy League schools during the Vietnam era, but has lately been reinstated at elite institutions such as Harvard, Columbia and Yale.

CLICK HERE to visit the Bridging The Gap Web site.

Recovering Our Honour is the follow-up to the Gemini Award-nominated series A Question Of Honour, which examined Canada’s foreign and defence policies.



Lest We Forget: PORTRAITS OF WAR Airs on Remembrance Day

November 6th, 2012

ichannel honours Remembrance Day with a special broadcast of the documentary PORTRAITS OF WAR. The hour-long film from Toronto’s Stornoway Productions airs Sunday November 11 at 1 pm & 7 pm ET. See below for details.

PORTRAITS OF WAR: A One-Hour Documentary Special

They were hell-bent on serving their countries during the WWII. Young men on a quest for “glory” and “adventure” caught up in the idealism of a most noble cause. Yet their pursuit would leave them forever changed – one through international fame, the other through private reflection. While their experiences followed very similar paths, they never met – until now, in front of our cameras.

This is a story told by two men – internationally acclaimed artist, Alex Colville, and funeral director-turned-photographer, Harold Morden. Through their respective paintings and photographs, both created images that captured the nightmarish truth that is war. And both, while witnessing the veneer of civilization shatter before their eyes, would have their notions of humanity eternally altered.

By 1944 the civilian lives of Colville and Morden bore a similarity. Each in his early 20s, had volunteered for military service, but had been turned down. Alex Colville had been deemed unfit for officer training and Harold Morden, a devoted photographer, was twice rejected by the Royal Canadian Air Force. He was colour blind. Who knew?

Unrelenting, they waited, they finagled, and in 1944 they each got their wish to serve their country; they were shipped overseas just as the Allies turned the tides of World War II on the beaches of Normandy.

As a war artist, Colville studied its heroes and victims, sometimes committing war’s absurd banality to canvas. Assigned to a combat medical evacuation unit, Morden spent 18 months just behind the front line, skirting enemy fire while transporting 60,000 injured souls to safety. He also recorded his unit’s history with strikingly candid photographs.

In April 1945, with the Allied Victory in Europe in sight, Morden and Colville’s lives crossed at perhaps the darkest time and place in living memory — the Bergen Belsen Death Camp. They were amongst a handful of Canadians who actually saw the camp on the day of its liberation. Colville was there to paint, Morden to help evacuate the weakened survivors among the literally tens of thousands of dead left by the retreating Germans.

Portraits of War shares the saga of two Canadians, their reactions to war and death, and how, in the aftermath of witnessing one of the most evil episodes in human history, their future works would be defined by escaping its trauma.


Defence Procurement: “A Recurring Nightmare”

May 31st, 2012


Robert Roy, the producer of the two-part ichannel investigative special Bang For The Buck and Disorder In the House has posted an article about the defence spending crisis over at iPolitics.ca. Here’s an excerpt:

The F-35 fighter jet, the potential replacement for the current CF-18, has joined the often lamented Avro Arrow, the Bonaventure refit and the Ross Rifle (WW1), as a lighting rod for controversy. It is the kind of problem that governments of all stripes seem to get into when dealing with defence.

Prime Minister MacKenzie King once wished that the “military would stay out of the Cabinet, out of the Treasury and out of trouble.” But large dollar figures, potential jobs and industrial benefits and not least, national security, are all at stake. These are big issues that can’t be ducked by wishful thinking that the military only needs some minor political attention. But not too much.

Conservatives have often tried to capitalize on military “rust-out” and cut-backs when in opposition by promising big spending on the Canadian Forces in both manpower and investment in fighting ships, planes and tanks. When they arrive in power they are confronted by the “national facts of life” that drove MacKenzie King’s thinking.

Prime Minister Harper inherited Afghanistan, which contributed to the Conservatives’ agenda of a more muscular Canada but clearly he did not enjoy the fallout and sought to remove the issue as quickly as possible from political debate. The early announcement that Canada would be out of Afghanistan by 2011 brilliantly smothered the rising public anxiety over the mission, but it was the opposite of taking the lead on the issue and suddenly we are back to MacKenzie King.

Read the whole thing HERE.

ichannel presents Bang For The Buck and Disorder In The House tomorrow night, Friday June 1, at 8 pm and 9 pm ET/PT.

Robert Roy is the producer of Bang for the Buck and Disorder in the House, documentaries on defence spending and parliamentary accountability. He is a documentary film maker who has covered international conflict, organized crime, intelligence, defence and security subjects over the course of a thirty year career. He is currently producing the documentary Bridging The Gap on civil-military relations in the United States. As part of the team that started Stornoway Productions he works with its foundation partner the Breakout Educational Network.


ichannel Special Asks: How Do We Spend Our Defence Dollars?

May 23rd, 2012


ichannel presents the two-part documentary special BANG FOR THE BUCK and DISORDER IN THE HOUSE, hosted by Mercedes Stephenson. Airdates: Tuesday May 29, 8 pm & 9 pm ET/PT | Friday June 1, 8 pm & 9 pm ET/PT

The controversy over the RCAF’s plans to purchase the F-35 fighter jet provides a timely context for ichannel’s special rebroadcast of this two-part documentary series on the problems of Canada’s military spending and the failure of Parliament to provide proper accountability of the government’s defence dollars. The series focuses on the issue of defence procurement — a long and costly process that has so often been mired in debate that inevitably questions of how we are governed must be asked.

Part One, BANG FOR THE BUCK, takes an investigative look at the defence spending  problem, tracing the Defence Department’s attempts to replace and invest in new weapons systems such as helicopters, submarines, trucks and transport aircraft. The program reminds us that the defence procurement system in Canada was broken a long time before the problems with the F-35 were raised. Among those familiar with the issue: Alan Williams, an Ottawa insider (and author of REINVENTING Canadian Defence Procurement: A View From Inside), who oversaw the Department of Defence’s spending programs as Assistant Deputy Minister.

Part Two, DISORDER IN THE HOUSE, examines the fallout from the publication of Alan Williams’ explosive book on defence spending. Can one man make his way to Parliament Hill to change the way the Government spends our tax dollars on Canada’s military? Williams believes his new plan would save years of time, save billions of dollars, and potentially save lives in conflicts like Afghanistan. Does he have a hope? What in our political system is he up against? And what does his story say to rest of us who aspire to influence government through Canada’s parliamentary system?

To find out, tune in to BANG FOR THE BUCK AND DISORDER IN THE HOUSE: Tuesday May 29, 8 pm & 9 pm ET/PT | Friday June 1, 8 pm & 9 pm ET/PT. Only on ichannel.

BANG FOR THE BUCK and DISORDER IN THE HOUSE were produced for Stornoway Productions by Breakout Educational Network. For more information, CLICK HERE.


Celebrating Mother’s Day

May 11th, 2012


Join ichannel on MOTHER’S DAY, Sunday May 13, for a series of specials that explore the nature of motherhood in all its fascinating complexity.

The Story of Mothers & Daughters – 1 pm & 7 pm ET: In this unflinchingly honest portrait of the bond between mothers and daughters, ordinary women from all walks of life share their insight into this profound relationship.

Wo Ai Ni Mommy – 4 pm ET: Since 1992, North American families have adopted tens of thousands of children from China — most of them girls. This documentary follows eight-year-old Fang Sui Yong and her adoptive American mother on a wrenching emotional journey. Can Sui Yong adapt to a radically different new home and culture? And can her new family cope with this test of their emotional resources?

Orgasmic Birth – 5:30 pm ET: Is the process of childbirth something that must simply be endured — or can it actually be enjoyed? This provocative documentary follows ordinary women as they explore new approaches to labour and delivery that can turn the birthing journey into one of physical, emotional and spiritual peaks.

CLICK HERE for more on ichannel’s documentary programming.


Sisterly Love

March 27th, 2012


Some news for our West coast fans: the Vancouver Mission of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence (a.k.a. the Abbey of the Long Cedar Canoe) are hosting a special fundraising screening of the ichannel original documentary Bad Habits: The Return of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence.

It all happens this Thursday night, March 29, at the Junction Pub (1138 Davie Street, Vancouver) from 7 pm to 9 pm. Admission is free, but donations are welcome, and all proceeds will go to benefit A Loving Spoonful, a charity that provides free, nutritious meals to people living with HIV/AIDS in the Greater Vancouver area.

Kevin O’Keefe, the award-winning writer/director of Bad Habits, will attend the screening, and will be on hand for the Q&A session afterward.

Bad Habits chronicles the fabulous 30-year history of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence and follows their efforts to put down new roots in Canada after a two-decades-plus absence. CLICK HERE for more information on the documentary or to order a copy.

CLICK HERE to explore the Vancouver Mission of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence.

CLICK HERE to learn more about A Loving Spoonful. CLICK HERE for information on Dining Out For Life, another fundraising event on March 29 that benefits the charities A Loving Spoonful and Friends For Life.


Your Money Or Your Life – Sneak Peek

February 21st, 2012


Here’s a first look at YOUR MONEY OR YOUR LIFE, the new ichannel original documentary by award-winning writer/director Kevin O’Keefe. Now in the production, the hour-long film is an eye-opening investigation into the struggle that many people  face accessing health care in Canada.

YOUR MONEY OR YOUR LIFE is slated to make its world television premiere on ichannel in fall 2012.


Spend Valentine’s with ichannel

February 8th, 2012


ichannel, Canada’s political and social issues network, is feeling the love this Valentine’s, with documentary and movie specials that take a thought-provoking look at the nature of relationships and romance.

Sunday Feb. 12, 8 pm ET/PT
Handsome Life magazine photographer Bill Shelby (David Niven) arrives in picturesque Carmel, California to snap his latest subject, Dorinda Hatch (Joan Caulfield), author of The Lady Says No, a best-seller that warns women away from men. Deriding her proto-feminist tome as “spinster rubbish,” Shelby sets out to undermine Dorinda’s theories and awaken her romantic impulses. Frank Ross directed this lightweight but charming 1951 battle-of-the-sexes romp, which offers a revealing glimpse into the era’s sexual attitudes and mores.

Monday Feb. 13, 9 pm ET/PT
Can a failing relationship be saved? That’s the question 15 real-life couples will face, as they gather in the Arizona desert for an intensive series of workshops aimed at rekindling their love lives. This hour-long documentary by Trish Bush follows the couples as they open up – sometimes with shocking honesty – and confront the obstacles that can stand in the way of building happy, committed and fulfilling marriages.

Tuesday Feb. 14, 8 pm ET/PT
Gary Chapman
is a relationship counselor and New York Times bestselling author. In this hour-long special, he explores his concept of the five love languages: a way of understanding and interpreting how different people express love. Knowing your partner’s love language, he says, improves communication in a relationship and can help renew and restore intimacy between couples.

Tuesday Feb. 14, 9 pm ET/PT
Filmmaker Tracie Donahue was an all-American girl who grew up fantasizing about an all-American marriage to the man of her dreams. And like many all-American marriages, hers ended in divorce. In this irreverent and witty documentary, Donahue embarks on a quest to understand why some couples manage to live happily ever after – and why so many others don’t.