UVic documentary celebrates resilient spirit of Métis nation

Human and Social Development, Fine Arts, Humanities, Libraries

Métis beadwork artist Lisa Shepherd with a beaded piece of artwork with film director Madeline Ell holding a camera for a close-up shot in a forest.
Métis beadwork artist Lisa Shepherd with Co-director Madeline Ell, credit Gregory Coyes

The University of Victoria Libraries is adding a new documentary about contemporary Métis voices speaking their truth to the library collection.

Acclaimed filmmaker and UVic Associate Professor Emerita (Gender Studies) Christine Welsh and Executive Producer Jeannine Carrière (UVic School of Social Work, Indigenous Specializations) teamed up with co-directors Madeline Ell and Gregory Coyes to create Lii Michif Niiyanaan: We Are Métis—a love letter to the courage, determination and resilient spirit of the Métis nation.

The Métis are often referred to as Canada’s “invisible people” or the “ghosts of the land,” whose stories haunt the country’s collective unconscious. Lii Michif Niiyanaan: We Are Métis is a one-hour documentary that addresses this invisibility by shining a new light on the historical and contemporary experience of Métis people in Canada and providing a space for Métis people to share their diverse perspectives on what it means to be Métis today.

“We wanted to make a film that’s celebratory of who we are as Métis people, but that also challenges Canadians to look past what they think they know about us and to see us as a vibrant, essential and enduring part of our national story.”

- Christine Welsh, filmmaker and UVic Associate Professor Emerita (Gender Studies)

Known to some as “half-breeds” and to others as otipemsiwak—the people who own themselves—the Métis are the vibrant result of mixed Indigenous and European ancestry and are one of three recognized Aboriginal peoples in Canada. Yet most Canadians know little about the unique place of the Métis in the Canadian mosaic, or what former BC Supreme Court Justice Thomas Berger calls “the unfinished business of reconciliation” between the Métis and the Canadian state.

“This film explores an important range of Métis thinkers. It is a powerful teaching tool that marks a gift to past, present, and future generations,” says Ry Moran, UVic associate university librarian – reconciliation.

Featuring the voices of Métis elders, artists, activists and scholars, Lii Michif Niiyanaan makes an essential contribution to the national conversation and reminds all Canadians to embrace the richness of their shared history. The film will officially become part of the UVic Libraries collection on Nov. 16, which is the 138th anniversary of the execution by hanging of Louis Riel, a central figure in the founding of the province of Manitoba and political leader of the Métis people.

Master beadwork artist Jennine Krauchi standing in a museum viewing a floor-to-ceiling installation of beaded artwork.

Master beadwork artist Jennine Krauchi with Octopus Bag installation at the Canadian Museum of Human Rights, Winnipeg; credit Chris Gaudry

Funding for this film has been provided by the Department of Canadian Heritage and the McLean Foundation, produced in association with UVic.

The film is available at UVic Libraries and through Moving Images Distribution.

Lii Michif Niiyanaan joins Welsh’s films in the library’s collection: The Thinking Garden (2017); Finding Dawn (2006); The Story of the Coast Salish Knitters (2000); Kuper Island: Return to the Healing Circle (1997); Keepers of the Fire (1994); and Women in the Shadows (1991).

The documentary aligns with UVic’s pledge to ʔetal nəwəl | ÁTOL,NEUEL | Respecting the rights of one another, being in right relationship with all things, and by upholding the rights of Indigenous, Métis and Inuit Peoples. To learn more, visit www.uvic.ca/worktogether.

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A media kit is available on Dropbox.

About the University of Victoria
One of Canada’s top universities, UVic offers life-changing, hands-on learning experiences to more than 22,000 students on the BC coast. We lead the way in research, creativity and teaching, with a focus on social fairness that aligns learning with our values. Our university is ranked in the top one per cent in the world and among the top-ranked in Canada for scientific impact. UVic is committed to reconciliation and working to increase educational opportunities and success for Indigenous students. We work closely with community partners to foster respect and reconciliation, promote sustainable futures and uphold our values of equity, diversity and inclusion. Find out more at uvic.ca. Territory acknowledgement

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Media contacts

Lisa Abram (UVic Libraries Communications) at 250-418-5766 or lisaabram@uvic.ca

Simone Blais (University Communications + Marketing) at 250-863-0633 or simoneblais@uvic.ca

In this story

Keywords: Indigenous, arts, administrative, history, reconciliation, colonialism, education

People: Christine Welsh, Jeannine Carriere, Ry Moran, Madeline Ell, Gregory Coyes, Gregory Scofield

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