Skoden Indigenous Film Festival | 2023

Friday, March 31 & Saturday, April 1, 2023
Djavad Mowafaghian Cinema – SFU Goldcorp Centre for the Arts
149 W. Hastings St. Vancouver

Individual Program Tickets: Pay what you can: $0, $10, $15, $20

Festival Passes: SKODEN ACCESS PASS (students, seniors, arts workers): $25 | SKODEN FESTIVAL PASS: $50

Please note: Each individual program requires a separate ticket, while Festival Passes will give you access to all of the programs.

All ticket sales go directly back into the sustainability of the Skoden Indigenous Film Festival and the costs related to putting on the festival (e.g. artist and guest speaker fees, festival operations).


Skoden Indigenous Film Festival 2023: Festival Passes

Program 1: Activating the Landscape

Program 2: It’s a Long Story, with feature Ever Deadly

Program 3: The Deepest Part of my Heart

Program 4: Who I Am, Who We Are

Program 5: Our Connections


The Skoden Indigenous Film Festival is a two-day student-led film festival which features exclusively Indigenous filmmakers and creatives from across Canada.

Founded on the principles of truth and reconciliation, Carr Sappier (Wolastoqew) and Grace Mathisen created the festival in 2019, and now we are headed towards the fifth annual Skoden Indigenous Film Festival. It’s organized and led by a class of students from all over SFU’s School for the Contemporary Arts and the Faculty of Communication, Art and Technology, and co-taught for the last three years by Carr Sappier and Kathleen Mullen.

Skoden is an Indigenous slang term that stands for ‘Let’s go then!’. According to Carr Sappier, Skoden is emblematic of more: “Skoden represents a sense of happiness, inclusion and a space where all filmmakers can feel like they are part of something that holds them up in respect,” they say. And for instructor Kathleen Mullen, “we are sharing experiences and knowledge through this course with humour, dialogue, and respect!”

With welcoming comments by Elder Xwechtaal Dennis Joseph, who is also witnessing the Festival, this year's edition of SIFF is split into five programs: Activating the Landscape; It’s a Long Story, with feature Ever Deadly; The Deepest Part of my Heart; Who I Am, Who We Are; and Our Connections.

Jury Members

Along with a witnessing ceremony lead by Elder Xwechtaal Dennis Joseph, awards for Best Film, Trickster, and Audience Choice will be given out during the closing ceremony, which follows Program 5. This year's jury includes Lisa G, Tristin Greyeyes, and Jay Cardinal Villeneuve.  


Here are the winners of the 2023 Skoden Indigenous Film Festival, as chosen by the jury of Tristin Greyeyes, Lisa G, and Jay Cardinal Villeneuve.

Honourable mentions go to the following films for their excellence: Rose – Roxann Whitebean, Heartbeat of a Nation – Eric Janvier, and Riverside Queerness – Eric Plamondon.

Congratulations to all of the winners and the honourable mentions, as well as to Carr Sapier, Kathleen Mullen, and the dedicated, hard-working students of CA 389 who worked quickly to organize and produce this year's SIFF, which will be heading into its sixth year in 2024.

Image: Return to Ombabika (Ma-Nee Chacaby, Zoe Gordon, Shayne Ehman, 22 min.)

Program 1 | Opening

Activating the Landscape: March 31 | 5:00 PM (94 min.)

Opening the festival and activating the space at SFU, this shorts program focuses on the body and the connection to the land.  

Body Sovereignty (Shelby Soney & Nehtanis Taylor, 3 min.)

Body Sovereignty is a youth-made short film that explores what liberation looks like from an Indigenous perspective.

Return to Ombabika (Ma-Nee Chacaby, Zoe Gordon, Shayne Ehman, 22 min.)

Two spirit Oji-Cree elder, activist and artist Ma-Nee Chacaby journeys home to Ombabika, Ontario where she grew up with her grandmother. She reflects on the land, her personal healing and the impacts of colonization on her community.

The Klabona Keepers (Tamo Campos, Jasper Snow-Rosen, Rhoda Quock, 69 min.)

The Klabona Keepers is an intimate portrait of the dynamic Indigenous community that succeeded in protecting the remote Sacred Headwaters, known as the Klabona. Spanning 15 years of matriarch-led resistance, the film follows a small group of determined elders as they heal from the wounds of colonization to push back against law enforcement, the government, and some of the largest multinational companies in the world.

Image: Ever Deadly (Tanya Tagaq, Chelsea McMullan, 90 min.)

Program 2

It’s a Long Story, with feature Ever Deadly: March 31 | 7:30 PM (95 min.)

This program opens a window to people's lived experiences and emotions through Indigenous artistic story-telling.  

Nikâwiy (Mother) (James Dixon, 3 min.)

Nikâwiy (Mother) is an experimental short exploring the process of decolonization, where Indigenous language and family connections are voices and bodies that create a dynamic experience for a child. When that relationship is taken away and replaced with something foreign, the dynamic becomes a thread of uncertainty. As we move forward, we begin to move through the echo chamber of colonizer voices and images that hold us back as we push through to reclaim our sense of cultural identity.

Windigokan Niimi (Colleen Simard, 2 min.)

The Windigokaan dances backwards at times on the frozen Red River. They dance for their lost sisters that have been found in these waters, as well as those who may never be found. They seem joyful but it is their way to reflect the opposite of what they should feel.

Ever Deadly (Tanya Tagaq, Chelsea McMullan, 90 min.)

This documentary explores Tagaq’s transformation of sound with an eye to colonial fallout, natural freedom and Canadian history. Ever Deadly weaves concert footage with stunning sequences filmed on location in Nunavut, seamlessly bridging landscapes, stories, and songs with pain, anger, and triumph–all through the expressions of one of the most innovative musical performers of our time.

Image: Power (Hannah Gallant, Madison Jules George, Nona Marchand, Danielle Taralson, 2 min.)

Program 3

The Deepest Part of my Heart: April 1 | 12:30 PM (77 min.)

This shorts program provides a warm welcome to Indigenous youths and families, inviting them to share their unique insights, experiences, and their innovative ways to support their communities.

Heartbeat of a Nation (Eric Janvier, 20 min.)

Heartbeat of a Nation is an evocative short documentary that celebrates the healing of a community and a nation through the reclamation and passing down of traditional teachings within a Dene family.

Power (Hannah Gallant, Madison Jules George, Nona Marchand, Danielle Taralson, 2 min.)

Indigenous youths from across BC came together to develop this short film that shows the real issue facing Indigenous women today.

A Rainbow to Turtle Island (Robbie Tait Jr, 6 min.)

This short film walks through the Turtle Island Handbook project by Robbie Tait Jr., which arose from a desire to transmit his culture and family heritage through his drawings. He also addresses the political side of his art through his Rainbow Tears project, inspired by a story about a political prisoner, Leonard Peltier.

Our Way (Laura Fontaine, Yasmine Fontaine, 6 min.)

Two young Innu women take up the old roads of the past to revive the identity of their Nation; a tribute to the Elders, the territory and the Innu people.

Fursona (Alyssia Labbé-Hervieux, 5 min.)

The Furry community is made up of people who use drawing and costumes to bring animal characters with human characteristics to life. Fursona depicts the universe of Aly, a member of this community.

Next Year at This Time (Sarah Carrier, 8 min.)

Clary, a soon to be high school graduate, has a less than ideal birthday as she is faced with her ignorant school guidance counselor and uncertainty about her future.

Image: Power (Merissa Victor, 2 min.)

Spirit Bear: Fishing for Knowledge, Catching Dreams (Amanda Strong, 22 min.)

Follow Spirit Bear as he travels from Carrier Sekani territory to the unceded lands of Algonquin Peoples, learning about traditional knowledge, the history of the residential school system, and what First Nations schools are like today.

Taking Back Our Power (Elle Brown, 7 min.)

This interview-styled film provides insights into the feelings and struggles of Indigenous people in Canada from the younger generation.

Image: Bimibatoo-win: Where I Ran (Erica Daniels, 23 min.)

Program 4

Who I Am, Who We Are: April 1 | 2:30 PM (100 min.)

This program stimulates a thought-provoking investigation into the intricate relationship that underlies how we define ourselves.

Rose (Roxann Whitebean, 25 min.)

Rose is the story of a sixteen-year-old pregnant Indigenous girl, pulled from her community and placed in a church to be overseen in her last weeks of pregnancy. When she delivers her child, it will be taken from her and put into a Canadian home by decree of an Indian Agent, Angus O’Byrne. Rose harbors a secret, and will not tell anyone the identity of the baby’s father–not even her family.

Riverside Queerness (Eric Plamondon, 18 min.)

Riverside Queerness reveals hard moments in the Prairies’ shadowed queer history. Three storytellers navigate muddy waters that are Manitoba's subconsciousness; where truth is blurred by the power of the currents. Content warning: violence, sexual content.

Kaashkitamaashoo (Chantelle Marie Anderson, 4 min.)

This film is about a woman’s exploration of her Metis identity; the quieting of her inner voice saying she is not “Indigenous enough."

The Dirt Road Maniacs (Howie Summers, 29 min.)

It’s a story of a Northern Saskatchewan band, the Dirt Road Maniacs, along with their stories of music and their roots.

Bimibatoo-win: Where I Ran (Erica Daniels, 23 min.)

Charlie Bittern is a residential school survivor from Berens River First Nation in Manitoba. Bittern hopes that retracing his steps will help him heal from his experience, while spreading awareness for all residential school survivors and all the children who never made it home. Content warning: blood (fake).

Wherever You Are, Wherever I Am (Kay Chan, 3 min.)

This film follows a pair of Two-Spirit Meris-Chinese youth softening a deer hide together. An experimental film about belonging and honouring your full self and ancestry, no matter where you are.

Image: Virus (Réal Junior Leblanc, 5 min.)

Program 5 | Closing

Our Connections: April 1 | 5:00 PM (103 min.)

This program offers a cinematic journey to explore the bonds that bring people together, to the lands, families, cultures, histories, and identities.

Journey to Our Homeland (Adrien Harpelle, 24 min.)

This film follows Nibinamik First Nation Elders Tommy Yellowhead and Stephen Neshinapaise, accompanied by a small group of youth and Shebafilm crew, as they traveled a historic canoe route to their birthplace. This film hopes to encourage other Matawa members to connect socially with each other through their waterways and trails in order to demonstrate the current and traditional land usage for all Matawa communities and First Nation members.

The scissors (Katia Kurtness, 3 min.)

At the sound of cardboard being cut, Annette remembers the first time she cut out animal silhouettes and passed on this talent to her daughter, Katia.

Kokum, with love. (Kim Stadfeld, 12 min.)

Flora Bear’s youngest granddaughter searches for truth and answers about her Indigenous grandmother’s life. This short documentary is the filmmaker’s personal journey of discovery to honor her late grandmother’s life and understand her family’s history.

We are not speaking the same language (Danike St-Laurent, 8 min.)

Thinking back on her only phone call with her maternal grandmother, Danika explains her connection to her Indigenous identity (and her grandmother) through beadwork.

Nukum Mary (My grandmother Mary) (Normand Junior Tshirnish, 7 min.)

A Naskapi grandmother passes on to her Innu granddaughter her experience, knowledge and culture as well as the patience and meticulousness that have characterized the first peoples of Canada for thousands of years.

Inuktitut languages in the 21st century (Ulivia Uviluk, 9 min.)

Ulivia explores what is accessible via the Internet in terms of Inuktitut. A tongue complex that includes several dialects and which varies from one generation to another, Inuktitut is threatened by dominant languages. Are there solutions for Inuktitut with this technology?

Torch Narrows (Simon Garez, 11 min.)

This film is about two small-town friends who revisit a traumatic memory they shared on the Saskatchewan River.

The Golden Age (Mimi O'bonsawin, 20 min.)

A short fantasy – whimsical, mysterious, and sometimes humorous. A morality tale for adults played out as an allegory about the loss of connection between humans and animals, and the global pandemic.

Istén:'a (KJ Edwards, 5 min.)

Istén:'a is a poetic retelling of a visit from the artist’s mother Beatrice in dream space. This film reflects on dreams as a meeting place where we can communicate with our loved ones, who we remain tethered to, even though we may be distanced by our material reality.

Virus (Réal Junior Leblanc, 5 min.)

The film is a reflection of a poem or a slam of an Innu on the virus called COVID.


Presented by the School for the Contemporary Arts and the Faculty of Communication, Art and Technology, with support from the Vancity Office of Community Engagement and Stir Vancouver.

COVID-19 Safety

Information on SFU's Return to Campus policy can be found here.

Follow SIFF

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Presented by the School for the Contemporary Arts and the Faculty of Communication, Art and Technology, with support from the Vancity Office of Community Engagement and Stir Vancouver.

COVID-19 Safety

Information on SFU's Return to Campus policy can be found here.

Follow SIFF

Facebook | Instagram | TikTok


Our team would like to acknowledge the ongoing governance of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh), kʷikʷəƛ̓əm (Kwikwetlem), Kwantlen, q̓íc̓əy̓ (Katzie), Qayqayt, Semiahmoo, and Tsawwassen peoples on whose traditional ancestral territories we are privileged to be housing our SFU campuses. Currently, there are over two hundred Nations in British Columbia (BC), and of the four Nations on whose lands our university is situated, none have signed nor agreed with the BC or Canadian governments regarding land rights.

April 01, 2023