A Calgary documentary made and produced in honour of the Indigenous woman has been released. Gerald Auger created Warrior Women. It was a calling he felt compelled to answer, crediting the wisdom of a dying matriarch.
“Warrior women is what my late grandmother told me on her death bed. She said: ‘In the future the woman is going to rise,'” Auger said.
The film is meant to move audiences to learn and to heal, as it details some hard truths about Indigenous women.
“The women being who they are as nurturers, caretakers and givers of life, surrendered their drums, medicine and ceremonies to the men to be able to communicate with European men,” Auger explained.
“Today the world is in chaos and turmoil and people have forgotten about the woman.”
Brooke Strongeagle is featured in the documentary, sharing her personal past.
“I was very ashamed and I didn’t like that I was Indigenous,” Strongeagle said. “I did feel vulnerable sharing my story but it’s empowering and people have to hear it.”
She started drumming and leaning into her roots, eventually loving her culture.
“Drumming meant healing, it’s my medicine, it’s awakening,” she said.
“I started feeling pride and embracing my last name – Strongeagle. That’s really Indigenous and I had so much pride.”
She’s part of the Stardale Women’s Group, an organization helping to empower young girls. Helen McPhaden created the initiative over 25 years ago.
“We are warrior women. All of us have been fighting the battle for a long time to help Indigenous women and girls,” McPhaden said.
“These girls are so resilient and so strong.”
She hopes the film triggers social change.
“I would like to see Warrior Women as a catalyst for the missing and murdered women and girls and for people to know about the systemic abuse and misinformation around how Indigenous women are treated,” McPhaden said.
Ben Clayton worked on the film as the editor, producer and director of photography.
“The work I do is trying to bridge gaps in society and to bridge cultural barriers between Indigenous people and settlers,” Clayton explained. “It’s something I am honoured to be part of and bring communities closer together.”
The premiere of Warrior Women was screened to a special audience Wednesday night.
Eda Lishman was in the crowd.
“There isn’t a parent or policeman that shouldn’t be seeing this. This program should be in the curriculum,” Lishman said.
“To be able to take a group of women who have been subjugated to what our culture demands of them or pushes them into and to see them rise from those degradation is what meant the most to me when I was viewing it.”
Jerilyn Wright also viewed the piece in a special preview.
“It was truly moving, and I just kept getting this message throughout the film, it’s time. It’s time for these women to speak and time for all of us to hear and time for change to happen,” Wright said.
“I was to offer the filmmaker a heartfelt congratulations because it’s not an easy picture to paint and they painted it very well.”
Strongeagle is proud she is able to use her voice for this project.
“There’s a reason I am here and that’s to uplift and to tell my people’s stories who are unable to talk about their stories.”
Auger hopes to submit the documentary into film festivals and give others the chance to view it.
“What I do, I don’t do for Gerald Auger, I do it for my creator, for my son, my grandson, my granddaughters,” Auger said. “The healing has to begin for my people.”