Documentary launch honours rich cultural heritage of the Métis

Libraries, Humanities, Human and Social Development, Fine Arts

- Hannah Mashon

Group shot with 4 of the film makers in front of an LED backdrop
Left to right: Writer and Producer Christine Welsh, Co-Producer and Co-director Gregory Coyes, Co-director and Narrator Madeline Ell, Executive Producer Jeannine Carriere. Credit: Lili Coyes Loiselle

On Nov. 16, the First Peoples House came alive with the vibrant spirit of celebration as Indigenous students, staff, faculty, Elders and community members gathered for a special event—the screening of the documentary film, Lii Michif Niiyanaan: We Are Métis, directed by Madeline Ell and Gregory Coyes. The event was a collaborative effort supported by UVic Libraries, the Etalew̓txʷ | ÁTOL ÁUTW̱, the Office of the Vice-President Indigenous and the Office of Indigenous Academic and Community Engagement (IACE).

The documentary, created by acclaimed filmmaker and UVic emeritus professor Christine Welsh and Executive Producer Jeannine Carrière, serves as a tribute to the courage, determination and resilient spirit of the Métis Nation. The film's title reflects its essence as a heartfelt exploration of Métis identity and history.

Metis jiggers holding hands and dancing infront of the LED screen backdrop. Credit: Hannah Mashon

Performances by Métis jiggers, Abi Porttris and Piper Bresser. Credit: Hannah Mashon

The launch coincided with the 138th anniversary of the execution of Louis Riel, a pivotal figure in the founding of the province of Manitoba and a political leader of the Métis people. The choice of this date adds a profound layer of historical resonance to the event.The ceremonial hall was enriched by the lively performances of Métis jiggers, a fiddle player and guitarist, providing a backdrop of music and dance that added to the festivities.

Lii Michif Niiyanaan is not just a documentary; it's a powerful tool for education and awareness. By shedding light on the historical and contemporary experiences of Métis people in Canada, the film opens up a space for diverse perspectives and narratives. The event not only celebrated Métis culture but also served as a platform to share and educate the broader university and community about the rich tapestry of Métis heritage.

“This film has been the highlight of my career at the University of Victoria. To have the privilege of working along this great production team and to serve my beloved Métis community has been a joy I didn’t think possible at UVic as we are grateful guests in these territories. When Dr. Skip Dick stood up to lead the audience in a standing ovation, my heart was full of joy and love. To hear the fiddle and see our traditional dancing gave me such pride! Again, I wish to express deep gratitude for all who supported our work and the launch. All my relations!”

- Jeannine Carrière, Executive Producer

The excitement of the evening was palpable, reflecting the shared enthusiasm of those in attendance. The organizers expressed gratitude to everyone involved in making this celebration possible, recognizing the collective efforts that contributed to the film.

Two male musicians sitting beside each other playing a fiddle and an acoustic guitar.

Performances by Ry Moran, guitarist and Daniel Lapp, fiddler. Credit: Hannah Mashon

In the spirit of gratitude and appreciation, organizers extend a heartfelt maarsii (thank you) to everyone who played a role in this remarkable evening. Together, we have taken a significant step in fostering understanding, appreciation and unity within our community.

“It takes a community to make a film like this, and I want to express my gratitude to the countless people who stepped forward to offer guidance, ceremonies and every conceivable kind of support—and especially our 20 on-camera participants for their courage and generosity in sharing their words and their wisdom with us. Despite a global pandemic and wildfires that raged across our homeland, they showed up for us in the summer of 2021 because they believed in this project and wanted their voices heard. I also want to thank our Co-Directors Madeline Ell and Gregory Coyes, and our Administrative Co-ordinator at UVic Emma Stuart, for their commitment to this project over the four years it took to complete; the film simply could not have been made without them,” Welsh said.


In this story

Keywords: arts, community, Indigenous, culture

People: Christine Welsh, Gregory Coyes, Madeline Ell, Jeannine Carriere

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