Storytelling is at the heart of Indigenous culture. And despite the federal government’s historic attempts at suppressing that culture—such as the 1884 potlatch ban, which outlawed some First Nation traditions and resulted in the loss of cultural practices—storytelling remains one of the primary ways Indigenous culture is sustained today.
“The truth about stories is that’s all we are,” said Cherokee author and educator Thomas King in his 2003 CBC Massey Lecture. From creation stories to traditional teachings, Indigenous narratives not only entertain, but transmit knowledge and language between generations, and help preserve First Nations, Inuit and Metis cultures and identities. Indigenous storytelling in Canada is an act of decolonization in a nation that was built on colonial practices.
That’s why filmmakers rejoiced last month when Netflix announced three new partnerships with Indigenous screen organizations in Canada to foster and develop screen-based talent. The agreements are with imagineNATIVE, the world’s largest presenter of Indigenous screen content, the non-profit Indigenous Screen Office (ISO) and Montreal-based Wapikoni Mobile, an inventive travelling, training and creative studio for Indigenous youth.
This funding will allow imagineNATIVE, ISO and Wapikoni Mobile to expand their training initiatives and offer a slew of professional development opportunities, like mentorship and apprenticeship programs, screenwriting intensives, “second phase support” and more, to Indigenous creators in Canada.