Benefits of Segregation?

I’ve been so anxious to start filming at my old high school–as I have been planning to for a while now–that I decided a couple of days ago that I could at least grab some B-roll on the campus grounds until the formal shooting can begin in August. I suspected things may have changed since I’d been there, and they have. As soon as I arrived and faced the gated entrance I noticed the signs for day-camp. Rats. I could hear the young laughs, yells and chat at the top of the path but pulled out the camera nonetheless.

Path to Villa Maria high school

Rats number two: the beautiful path now has a biking lane and speed bumps for cars!!!! NO!! I couldn’t (and still can’t) bare the thought that the beautiful path to the school that we all walked up every morning was now being polluted with vehicles! Grinding my teeth I kept walking up that path shooting the scenery until I came upon the athletic field. Just as I was positioning the camera I heard a young girl beside me say “what are you doing?” so, I explained and then we introduced ourselves. Pauline seemed so curious about the filming that I, of course, asked “can I record your thoughts about school? Not on camera, just audio” to which she said “sure”.

So, out came the H4N. I was glad I brought the windscreen…until I tested the sound. Useless! It was sooo windy I could barely hear our conversation and there was no where to escape it.

Pauline attends Miss Edgar’s and Miss Cramp’s private girls school. She certainly has opinions about her education but is overall quite happy with her school. I wondered if she was content attending a private girl’s school. She said she’d prefer to be in a public school although she has never had any exposure to them. In her opinion, the boys and the (presumed) less strict environment would be totally worth it!

Here’s a little glimpse of our conversation. Check out the equipment these students have access to! :


Now, my concerns over school segregation are re-surfacing; schools for the rich, middle class, ‘at-risk’, black, queer… are these really healthy options? I definitely experienced a culture shock when I moved out of private girls school and into a mixed college. The feeling was uncomfortable for a while but I eventually adjusted. It was a welcome relief at first to be attending private girls school; my first year of high school was spent in a public school where I was relentlessly bullied by a group of boys. I was so distressed by this that when my mother proposed an all girl school as an alternative it sounded like great idea… at the time.

I don’t feel comfortable supporting… well, much of anything that involves segregation but when you’re young, scared, depressed and failing school is seems like the healthiest of choices.

I think it’s time to start incorporation the question of academic segregation into this thesis project.

About cayoup

Colleen Ayoup was born and raised in Montreal, Quebec. She has been engaged in media creation for nearly twenty years. After attending the Dawson Institute of Photography (Montreal), she worked as a commercial photographer for several years until the craving for different creative pursuits gave way. This desire led to two subsequent degrees in Psychology/Film Studies and Film Production (B.A., B.F.A) at Concordia University in Montreal. Her short fiction films and documentary, Kings (2001), about drag-king culture in Montreal toured festivals internationally. In 2004, she joined the National Film Board of Canada where she coordinated Doc Shop, a program designed to give emerging filmmakers an opportunity to learn trade skills from industry professionals and produce a short documentary for broadcast on CBC. She also contributed to the development and creation of CitizenShift (, the NFB’s first social-media website that she subsequently coordinated for five years. She is a recent graduate of the Master of Fine Arts program in Documentary Media at Ryerson University (Toronto, ON)