Everyday Activist - Della’s Story [Virtual Escape Room from USAY]

Posted on Wednesday, May 05, 2021 at 06:00 PM

Della's Story [Virtual Escape Room from USAY]

Movie Review by Everyday Activist X CalgaryMovies.com

For May 5th, Red Dress Day to bring awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls and Two Spirited people, I decided to review something a little different. From my semesters in social work, I wanted to learn more about Indigenous culture and various projects around Calgary led by Indigenous people to support their communities of Indigenous and settlers alike. Pearl White Quills has been an excellent source of information on Instagram. Through her I learned about a virtual escape room called Della’s Story, hosted by Urban Society of Aboriginal Youth (USAY). It involves piecing together clues about Della, who was taken away from her family during the 60’s scoop, to unlock her memories to help her heal.

Because Della, a volunteer at USAY, was removed from her home after her first birthday, our host helped her piece together her life story, a process reflected in the escape room construction. Just like a regular escape room, the virtual rooms have clues that unlock drawers where we find more clues, until we reach the end. To remind the players that Della is a real person, they used her voice, instead of a voice actor with the escape room hosts intentionally having a personal connection to her story. When my friends and I went through, Della’s grandson was training to lead the game for future groups.

After all the puzzles are solved, the players and the host debrief, where we learned about the process people such as Della had to go through to access information and compensation. Despite studying Indigenous issues, a lot of the material presented in the game was new. Many Indigenous children were sent abroad, as far away as Australia. To track families for reunification the community developed a GIS system as the Canadian Government isn't forthcoming to release family details.

Della’s vulnerability to share her story in such an intimate format allows people to connect with her painful past. Indigenous people in our community were removed from their families by the government rather than have support to keep them together, which becomes more real and tragic when it’s someone we know. The adoptive families received money to take care of children who often served as farm laborers. Della had ten other Indigenous children living with her on the farm she was placed on in Alberta, even though she was from British Columbia.

When it comes to Indigenous issues, lack of action is one of the biggest criticisms of the Canadian Government. Land acknowledgments often feel like tokenism to families who have lost loved ones. Aside from writing about my experience with the game, I have also started the nomination process for the Governor General Community award to publicly honor Della and all the people who helped her. Part of helping Indigenous women escape violence is doing what we can to make sure their powerful voices are heard. USAY plans to make more escape rooms related to Della’s family tree to provide space to discuss residential schools and the child welfare system that my friends and I are waiting to try. 

Calgary Showtimes: Della's Story >


NOTE: The showtimes listed on CalgaryMovies.com come directly from the theatres' announced schedules, which are distributed to us on a weekly basis. All showtimes are subject to change without notice or recourse to CalgaryMovies.com.