A language can be lost in only one generation. It takes at least three generations to revive one. Native Minds speaks with Indigenous language keepers from three nations. Each has committed to revitalising their mother tongue and passing it on to the next generation and beyond. A native mind is best expressed through his or her own native tongue.
Kaikōrero: Anne Lajla Utsi (Sámi), Zoe Hopkins (Mohawk), Joe Pihema (Ngāti Whatua)
NATIVE Minds is a series of interactive discussions hosted by Tainui Stephens. They examine how Indigenous thinking shapes our existence and our view of the world.
Anne Lajla Utsi belongs to the Sámi people and is based in the Sámi village Kautokeino in Norway, above the Arctic Circle, where she has served as managing director for the International Sámi Film Institute (ISFI) since 2009.
She was one of the founders of the Institute and has a background as director. Utsi has through the ISFI guided a new generation of Sámi filmmakers and the International Sámi Film Institute represents a watershed in Sámi film production and the production has increased with 46 % in this period with 67 % women directors.
ISFI has also initiated several international collaborations between indigenous filmmakers such as the Arctic Film Circle, Arctic Chills and the establishment of Arctic Indigenous Film fund, where Utsi is a member of the board. She is also a member of the European Film Academy.
Joe Pihema(Ngāti Whātua) is a cultural expert and practitioner for Ngāti Whātua. Joe and his wife Huia (Te Aitanga a Mahaki) are both fluent speakers of Te Reo Rangatira and have raised their 3 children in the Māori language and also the traditions and protocols of their ancestors. Joe has worked in Māori education for 25 years and is currently lead concept designer at Haumi, a cultural and creative agency. Joe also has a background in Museums and the heritage sector, Māori governance and television. Joe and his whānau live in Tāmaki Auckland.
Zoe Hopkins is a Heiltsuk and Mohawk woman, born in her mother’s community of Bella Bella, a fishing village on the coast of BC. She is now raising her son in her father’s community of Six Nations, Ontario, where she learned to speak and teach Kanyen’kéha (the Mohawk language.)
Hopkins drew upon her personal connection to the Great Bear Rainforest for her award-winning first feature film, Kayak to Klemtu, which received a theatrical release in Canada, and is distributed by Mongrel Media, now streaming on CBC Gem, iTunes, and on Amazon Prime in the US.
*Official Selection: Edinburgh International Film Festival; Best Canadian First Feature Film: Victoria International Film Festival; Audience Choice Award: imagineNATIVE Film Festival; Best Actress Nominee (Ta’Kaiya Blaney) & Best Supporting Actress Nominee (Sonja Bennett): Leo Awards; Best Director: American Indian Film Festival; Best Actor (Lorne Cardinal): American Indian Film Festival; Audience Choice Award: Powell River Film Festival; Best Feature Film: Lumbee Film Festival.
Hopkins holds a BAA in Film from Ryerson University, and is an alumna of the Sundance Institute’s Feature Film Program. Her films have screened Internationally at festivals including Sundance, Berlinale, TIFF Kids, and Edinburgh.
Zoe was a writer and consulting producer on CBC’s dramatic series Trickster, based on the much-celebrated book Son of a Trickster, by Eden Robinson. She’s a member of the Writer’s Guild of Canada, and in development on a new series.
Zoe wrote her sophomore feature film Run Woman Run as an anti-rom-com because she wanted to see a woman on screen find self love before the romantic kind. Finishing the film remotely in a pandemic was difficult but spurred on by the film’s themes: to be grateful, to honour the earth, and to live a good life. Currently on the festival circuit, the film has had its World Premiere at the Maoriland Film Festival in New Zealand, its US Premiere at Santa Barbara Film Festival, and is an Official Selection of the WorldFest Houston International Film Festival, and the Illuminate Film Festival in Arizona.