Although he didn’t have a major role in the film, Inuvik actor Chris Church said just being involved in The Grizzlies was a life-changing experience.
Based on a true story, The Grizzlies is Canadian sports drama that takes place in the early 2000s and revolves around a lacrosse team that is assembled in Kugluktuk, Nunavut. In a community plagued with a high number of teen suicides, the film chronicles how the sport gave the youth a sense of purpose.
“I’m very closed-minded when it came to realizing what happened in their lives. Me not really knowing about it just made me really think about life and what I’m doing with my life,” said Church.
“These guys had it tough, and here I am just sulking in my parents’ house, living off them. I’ve been taking a lot of stuff for granted. I’m realizing that,” he said. “Take care of yourself. Don’t take anything for granted, ’cause these guys did and they paid the price.”
Church, who had a role as of one of the players on the Grizzlies team, added that working on the film has taught him to appreciate the little things.
“I’m making sure that I hang out with my brother and that I spend a lot of time with him, in case something were to happen,” he said. “ If I were hit by a truck, I don’t want to be that brother who nudged him off all the time.”
For Church, he said that the best part of the film was developing close relationships with the other members of the cast and crew.
“So much happened in such a little time. I went from knowing nobody to having a big family. Even the production crew, they weren’t snobby like you see in regular movies,” he said. “They were into it. We all went out for drinks, had dinner all the time together. We always hung out. I miss them a lot.”
The hardest part of the film, he added, was saying goodbye to everybody on the final day of shooting.
“I can remember it like it was yesterday. We were all sitting in a circle. We weren’t ready to hear the news. When the director said ‘Congratulations guys, you’re movie stars. That’s the final scene’, we all burst out crying, hugging each other,” he said.
Ever since the film was publicly screened in Inuvik on May 8, Church said he’s been receiving the celebrity treatment from community members.
“It’s quite an eye-opener. You get a lot of autographs and pictures here. It’s weird,” he said. “I grew up with these people around here and for them to ask for my picture is different.”
He added that he still struggles to find the right words to express how grateful he is to have had this opportunity.
“People ask me and I still don’t have an answer. Unless you do it yourself, then you’ll know it,” he said.