Storytelling is an important part of our lives. The artform can pass down valuable information from generation to generation and teaches us about ourselves and our ancestors.
The new online docu-series Tell Our Stories seeks to do just that. With its debut March 16 online at tellourstories.ca, the series was created to protect and promote Indigenous storytelling, and one of the five short documentary films has a serious Manitoba connection.
Directed by Indigenous filmmaker Taina Da Silva from Grassy Narrows First Nation, the film Revitalizing Untold Stories of Indigenous Foods follows Winnipeg-based Indigenous chef — also originally from Grassy Narrows — Chantelle Bone as she returns home to learn traditional recipes from her elders and gain knowledge of the land.
The short film subtly catalogues teachings that became lost through the horrendous practices of colonization.
Bone first learns how to hunt and how to pay her respects to the animals she hunts before learning how to traditionally prepare and cook the food. The chef quickly realizes the relationship to the land lives on in her community and that the simplest of ingredients can be made into the most delicious of meals.
For filmmaker Da Silva, this documentary seems to be a long time in the making, her own stories culminating with the project to revitalize Indigenous cuisine and an opportunity to showcase the injustices faced by Indigenous peoples and against the environment.
“I come from a reserve that has a lot of social injustices,” Da Silva said.
“I really want to just focus on the storytelling of Indigenous peoples and going back to the culture and just everything to do with bringing that back and showing that in documentaries.”
Da Silva’s main goal is to be able to share these stories, but most importantly to encourage and mentor Indigenous youth, hoping this film will add to her own role of teaching Indigenous youth about their culture and traditions
“I’d say my greatest success so far is being able to reach young Indigenous audiences,” she said.
“My main goal is just to reach those audiences — the Indigenous youth — show them what they can do or show them […] what it means to be Indigenous.”
The collaboration between Da Silva and Bone began simply with the two knowing each other from growing up in Grassy Narrows and wanting to work together. The Tell Our Stories campaign became the perfect way to promote their own goals of reacquainting themselves and their audiences with their culture.
Whereas in the short film Bone hopes to incorporate traditional food into future recipes as a chef, Da Silva hopes to continue her role as a storyteller with more projects — including both film and writing — educating future generations about their cultural heritage.
“I love to write about the land and my people.”
Revitalizing Untold Stories of Indigenous Foods is available to stream for free on tellourstories.ca along with the other four Tell Our Stories short documentary films.