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Telus Originals documentary s-yéwyáw / AWAKEN can be streamed for free

s-yéwyáw / AWAKEN
Barbara Higgins x wu’ p’ a’ lich is one of four Elders who share their wisdom in s-yéwyáw / AWAKEN

A B.C. documentary bearing witness to Indigenous elders’ teachings can now be streamed across Canada. Telus Originals and Hollywood Suite have made s-yéwyáw / AWAKEN available at no charge following the film’s theatrical run last year.

Directed by Liz Marshall (Meat the Future), the Telus Originals film takes viewers on an intergenerational journey. Through discussions with four Elders, viewers learn how disrespecting the land is inextricably linked to harms to Indigenous people. In one riveting and memorable scene, musician, medicine woman, and tattoo artist Ecko Aleck interviews her father Terry, a member of the Nlaka’pamux Nation. She asks him to describe the day he was taken to an Indian residential school.

Three other elders—the now-deceased Barbara Higgins x wu’ p’ a’ lich, Calvin Craigan Hiwus, and Wayne Christian Wenecwtsin—also share their wisdom. They speak on a range of subjects with two other central characters, Alfonso Salinas and Charlene SanJenko.

Salinas is a traditional wellness coordinator with the shíshálh Nation. SanJenko is a former Gibsons town councillor. She was born into the Splatsin First Nation and was adopted into a non-Indigenous home during the Sixties Scoop.

The two of them and Aleck share the writing credit for s-yéwyáw / AWAKEN. One of the film’s major achievements comes by revealing the power of Indigenous oral storytelling in resisting colonial oppression.

In an interview with Pancouver last year, Aleck said that oral teachings around medicine and ceremony survived to the present day despite a 66-year ban on potlatches.

“The oral storytelling is how we have managed to revitalize as Indigenous people,” she added.

Watch the trailer for s-yéwyáw / AWAKEN.

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Charlie Smith

Charlie Smith

Pancouver editor Charlie Smith has worked as a Vancouver journalist in print, radio, and television for more than three decades.

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The Society of We Are Canadians Too created Pancouver to foster greater appreciation for underrepresented artistic communities. A rising tide of understanding lifts all of us.

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The Society of We Are Canadians Too created Pancouver to foster greater appreciation for underrepresented artistic communities. A rising tide of understanding lifts all of us.

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We would like to acknowledge that we are gathered on the traditional and unceded territories of the Coast Salish peoples of the xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), and Səl̓ílwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations. With this acknowledgement, we thank the Indigenous peoples who still live on and care for this land.