Culture Club : Indigenous (Ac)Knowledge(ment)

BESIDE asked environmentalist facilitator, author, and member of the Innu community of Ekuanitshit (Mingan), Melissa Mollen Dupuis, to talk to us about a few recent works that have moved, changed, or inspired her—or all of the above. Because cultural recommendations from others have the power to transform us.

Inuktitut, by Elisapie

Elisapie’s fourth album includes 10 rock and pop classics from the 1960s that have particularly touched her. The singer-songwriter sings them in her mother tongue, Inuktitut, with all the depth she’s famous for.

Nitinikiau Innusi: I Keep the Land Alive, by Tshaukuesh Elizabeth Penashue

This book started in the form of a journal, in which Tshaukuesh Elizabeth Penashue recounts her daily experiences. The Innu activist and environmentalist from Labrador also tells the history of her people and the territory.

Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants, by Robin Wall Kimmerer

This book is a reflection on our relationship with the living world. For botanist Robin Wall Kimmerer, member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, plants and animals are our greatest teachers, but we struggle nowadays to hear their language. As a scientist as well, Wall Kimmerer is interested in the necessary dialogue between Indigenous knowledge and dominant Western methodologies.

Angry Inuk, by Alethea Arnaquq-Baril

In this award-winning documentary, director Alethea Arnaquq-Baril follows a new generation of Inuit campaigning to destigmatize the image of seal hunting. Taking advantage of social media, the group introduces themselves to the world as a modern people who are urgently seeking to establish a sustainable economy. On the NFB site.

Reservation Dogs, co-created and produced by Sterlin Harjo and Taika Waititi

Produced, directed, and acted by Indigenous folks, this series is a first, as well as a major step forward in terms of cultural representation on television. Five teens in rural Oklahoma try to gather enough money to leave the reserve and move to California. All three seasons available on Hulu.

We’d also like to add to the list the first young adult book by our advisor, Melissa Mollen Dupuis. Illustrated by Élise Gravel, Nutshimit: un bain de forêt is an immersion in Innu culture and territory. Page after page reveals the richness of the forest, while Melissa invites both young and old to chew birch bark, light a fire, and cook bannock. Through her words and images, we finally come to realize that forest bathing is not rocket science, and has so much to teach us.

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