7 – 9 April, 2021 | xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) Traditional Territory

Storytelling as Research:
Unsettling the Cultural Politics of Diversity through Filmmaking

Webinar 3 – Unsettling Narratives I

April 9, 9-11 (PST)

Moderation/Discussant: Kirsten Emiko McAllister (SFU)

Welcome by Mack Paul, Musqueam Indian Band

Jules Arita Koostachin (UBC): KaYaMenta: Sharing Truths about Menopause (2020).

KaYaMenTa is a short documentary (22 mins.) that weaves raw, funny, honest and intimate interviews of five (5) Indigenous sisters, Dr. Anita Tannis and me, Jules Koostachin (aka documentarian) as we delve into the mysteries of menopause.

KaYaMenTa invites our sisters and our viewers to face their own fears regarding getting older, and tackle the taboo around menopause once and for all. To humanize these experiences, we provide a personal understanding of menopause through an Indigenous women’s lens – one that engages with core themes: Sexuality, Aging, Spirituality, and Healing.

KaYaMenTa brings together (5) incredibly resilient, smart and witty Indigenous sisters: Maori actor Rena Owen, actor Michelle Thrush, activist and educator Doreen Manuel, director Renae Morriseau and comedian Sharon Shorty, along with an Dr. Anita Tannis (specialist) to share their experiences. Personal interviews with each sister, and fluid conversation between them all in a glamorous setting, will not only pamper our sisters, but encourage open and fun conversation – Native style with lots of joking and tears! Some other themes we explore through gathering are Hot and Flashy, Moody Swings, Bringing Sexy Back, and Sweaty Nights.

KaYaMenTa allows a platform for IsKwewak (women) to speak to their experiences without interruption. We all know that menopause is a taboo topic, but have you ever wondered why? Every woman will go through it… so why all the secrecy and embarrassment?  Studies show that 8 out of 10 women will experience symptoms of peri-menopause and menopause, so why all the shame?  There is a definite need to talk about it because when we do, we will hopefully dispel the myths associated with this very normal transition in a woman’s life.  

Most recently I went to see the doctor, and asked for help to relieve my night sweats – he prescribed me anti-depressants. WOW, I felt like crying! I went home and researched the medication he prescribed, and it was highly addictive. Why anti-depressants? Am I depressed? I am going through the CHANGE, not the GREAT DEPRESSION. Now lets put men on pause for a while, and shed some much needed light on women’s health and wellbeing from a woman’s perspective.  Like many Indigenous women across Turtle Island, I too am living with the symptoms of peri-menopause, and to be frank, I am tired of not knowing what is happening to my body. I feel like I’m twelve years old all over again, except society romanticizes young girls entering womanhood… so why not honour us, the ones going through menopause?  

My Cree mother had a hysterectomy early in her life and my Kokoom has passed away, so there is no left I can reach out to.  I’ve been living with night sweats for over 10 years now, and they have intensified. Now I am a walking sauna, living with brain fog, and feeling like an emotional wreck because of my hormonal changes.  But seriously though… why is it understood by so many as negative?  Mind you, I understand that its not the most fun thing to go through, but it’s a part of life, or is it? 

This question led me to ask whether or not Indigenous women have answers to how it was treated in the past, prior to when it was seen as taboo. We do ceremonies for girls when they transition to womanhood with their first menses, but what about when it comes to an end?  

KaYaMenTa explores the following questions: Why do we stop becoming desirable with age? We don’t need our periods to be sexy, or do we?  Did Indigenous women do ceremony for women in community when their menses ended?

Aging is sexy and it’s time to reclaim it!

Erin Goheen Glanville (UBC): Borderstory (2020)

A multimedia documentary narrating the word ‘border’ as part of the Worn Words listening research project on refugee discourse.

Borderstory tells a familiar story about the border as the primary tool for citizens’ safety. It seems true because it has been repeated so often. But displaced people tell more interesting, complex stories. Borderstory invites you into a dialogue about borders led by people on the move. What do you believe to be true about borders? What might you learn from other experiences? This 24-minute multimedia documentary prompts introductory level discussions about:

      • cross-sector perspectives on migration experiences

      • imagination, culture, and belonging

      • the ethics of storytelling

      • the history of nation-state borders

      • the cultural figure of the refugee

An imaginative animation opens the film. It tells a common tale about the border, a shapeshifting piece of yarn, and the people who encounter it. Left in a tangle of yarn, we wonder with the narrator: do we have any better stories? The animation is rewound, and this time, as three narrators retell the story, it’s interrupted by research interviews with people who have experiential, research, and industry expertise. The film finishes with a firsthand story—possibly better!