Sharing stories of life and culture through film

On March 8, Janine Windolph returned to her hometown Regina for the Canadian premier of her film Stories are in Our Bones. The film is being presented as a free screening at the Mackenzie Art Gallery on March 12.
Photo by Paige Reimer

Janine Windolph is an indigenous filmmaker and director from Regina who recently shared a film about her grandmother, her two sons, and a fish.

Stories are in Our Bones is a tender and heart-warming film Windolph created to honour Indigenous stories and culture. The camera follows the journey of Windolph and her sons on a fishing trip in Lac La Ronge with their kokum, their grandmother. Janine’s mother lives traditionally in the Lac La Ronge area and has passed these traditional skills down to Windolph, who is now passing those skills and knowledge to her sons.

This film is multifaceted, it is about more than the sharing of Indigenous culture but also the power of sharing stories.

“Another point is to have people share their stories no matter what their story is,” said Windolph.

“So, whether they’re from an urban community or from the reserve, I think that’s the main thing is to continue building our stories.”

“That was one thing that was really important, is fishing is universal across cultures and tribes. And I really felt that the film can not only speak to indigenous people, but to other cultures as well. Because I think everybody has a background where they can connect … in some way.”

Her film was recognized by the National Film Board of Canada and was released online for streaming on March 8.

“One of the values my mom taught me was to continuously share generously, not just to our own people, but to all people,” said Windolph.

“And so, when the NFB wanted to launch it, I felt it was very fitting.”

Her sons have lived in a city for their entire lives, so part of creating this story was about keeping them grounded to their heritage and reminding Janine of where she came from.

The screening of this film is taking place March 12 at the Mackenzie Art Gallery as a feature of eight films created by women filmmakers and directors. This event, titled ‘Remembering the Past, “Looking to the Future,” is focusing on bringing recognition to women in the film industry.

Sandra Staples-Jetko is the curator of this free event which is the first in a series of screenings of Saskatchewan women filmmakers.

“All of [the films] are looking at the past, possibly what’s happening in the future and what’s happening now,” said Staples-Jetko.

She started this event as a way to represent women in an industry where they have been historically under-represented.

“The first half of the century, women haven’t really been recognized [as filmmakers],” said Staples-Jetko.

This screening includes films by Trudy Stewart, Amalie Atkins, Tasha Hubbard, Candy Fox, Dianne Ouellette, Tessa Cook, and Elaine Pain. Each film being presented shows an aspect of the past and how they are now looking to the future.

It was also important to Staples-Jetko and Windolph to have these films presented in relation to International Women’s Day.

“I was quite honored that the NFB wanted to launch my film on International Women’s Day because part of the story is honoring matriarchs and my mom being the eldest in our generation that still actively practices for culture and teachings,” said Windolph.

“What I learned about gender roles I learned mostly in my time moving to the city, so I wanted to deconstruct it. But I like doing it in a way that’s more active and visual, not lecturing. So … that’s why [the film] has a softer side and more experiential … it is the film that’s a message for my kids, but I think in that it’s also for everybody.”


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