Canadian filmmaker gains eye-opening work experience around the world
Justice Brooks, a Canadian director and filmmaker, was shocked as he captured the story of an Indian woman’s struggle to feed her four children after her husband died suddenly.
Brooks, now 25, travelled to India in 2018 when he worked for the Australian television station, Hillsong Channel.
Meeting the grieving mother was a poignant moment for Brooks, who grew up in Red Deer, Alberta.
“To say seeing people living like that was a wakeup call doesn’t even begin to do it justice,” Brooks says. “Seeing a mother in an already dire situation with her husband passing, having to live in the slums of Mumbai, hits you pretty hard.”
The sights and sounds in Mumbai, and this woman’s difficult plight, were much grimmer than Brooks had anticipated. He travelled to India with Vision Rescue to document how the organization helps people around the world with food, education and emotional support.
A federal government initiative, International Experience Canada (IEC), made the life-changing experience possible for Brooks.
IEC gives Canadians between the ages of 18 and 35 the chance to gain international work and travel experiences. They can apply for a visa to work in more than 30 countries that have bilateral arrangements with Canada. Youth from these countries may also come to Canada to do the same.
Brooks was granted a working holiday visa by Australia and moved there in 2017, where he started his job at Hillsong Channel, based in Sydney.
“The working holiday visa gave me the opportunity of a lifetime to work in Australia and the United Kingdom and launch my career in the film industry,” Brooks says.
Now, Brooks has a sponsored working visa so he can continue to work at Hillsong Channel, overseeing all aspects of filming, from booking camera gear to operating the camera. He also uses his technical filming knowledge to bring the head director’s vision to life on the screen.
As a director of photography and a camera operator, he works on television shows, advertising campaigns, documentaries and video content for musicians in Australia. He was also sent by the television network to film in India, Thailand and Cambodia.
Brooks first experienced the IEC program after he graduated from the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology in 2014 and completed a film studies internship with New York City’s Columbia University.
He was granted a visa by the United Kingdom through IEC and moved there in 2014.
There, Brooks worked with Joshua McKenzie, also known MckNasty, a music director and semi-finalist on Britain’s Got Talent. Brooks produced videos for musicians at major record labels, including British rapper Labrinth, and travelled all over Europe.
“To me the idea of travelling as a tourist was exciting, but traveling with work was the dream”
— Justice Brooks, Canadian director and filmmaker
When he was living in the United Kingdom, Brooks visited refugee camps on the French border with the London-based not-for-profit organization Green Light.
Working as filmmaker in the U.K., thanks to the IEC program, Brooks produced a video that highlighted the terrible refugee camp conditions and encouraged people to volunteer their time and to donate food and supplies.
On the French border, Brooks met a man his age: “Seeing someone my age who’d been through so much opened my eyes in ways I can’t explain,” Brooks says. “These refugees have been through so much and have nothing left.”
Brooks says his career has flourished largely because of the global work experience he’s received through the IEC program.
“The message I want to get across is that the working holiday visa isn’t only for backpackers,” Brooks says. “It’s a valuable tool for young professionals who want to travel and work abroad.”
Through Canada’s International Education Strategy, more young Canadians like Brooks can bring home new skills and experience thanks to opportunities to study and work abroad.
The Government of Canada is investing $147.9 million over five years, with $8 million per year ongoing, toward the new International Education Strategy.
The investments will help young Canadians gain the skills they need to succeed in a global economy and will help Canada continue to attract top talent from around the world.
The strategy includes increased promotion of the International Experience Canada initiative to raise more awareness among young Canadians about opportunities to work and travel abroad.
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