Skip to main content

Boreal Community Media

First Nation member spotlights urgency to keep culture alive with new documentary

Dec 26, 2020 10:18AM ● By Editor
Sarain Fox made her directorial debut earlier this month with  , a film which documents the life of her auntie Mary Bell.  Photo: Land Back Studios Inc.

By Sam Laskaris from The Anishinabek News - December 23, 2020

Despite the dangers of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, Sarain Fox has managed to fulfill a long-standing familial plea.

Fox, a member of Batchewana First Nation, made her directorial debut earlier this month when her first documentary was released.

The film, which is now available on CBC Gem, is called Inendi (She Is Gone).

The documentary focusses on Fox’s auntie, Mary Bell, who is her grandfather’s sister, and the oldest matriarch in her family.

Fox was keen to make the film with Bell to gather her stories and preserve the family’s culture.

The need to do so was heightened by the pandemic, which poses a serious risk to those in Indigenous communities, especially Elders.

“Growing up, my mom always made it clear there is an urgency to reclaim our stories,” Fox said.

And because of the pandemic, concerns of those who live on First Nations, many of which do not have adequate health support, that urgency became even more evident in 2020.

“It’s so important to hear their stories while they’re still here,” Fox said. “With the pandemic, it just intensified that.”

Fox, who is now living in King City, located north of Toronto, travelled to Batchewana First Nation during the first week of June. She spent two weeks filming in the First Nation, located next to Sault Ste. Marie in northern Ontario.

In Inendi, Bell, a residential school survivor, details many horrific stories she lived through during her childhood years.

Fox was eager to film details about the stories as she is not sure how much longer Bell, who is 84, will be around.

The pandemic is considered a threat to Indigenous cultures and the preservation of languages. That’s because Elders, the traditional keepers of knowledge and culture, often have other health conditions, which would make them even more vulnerable to COVID-19.

Fox is pleased to report Bell has remained healthy throughout the pandemic, including its current second wave.

Bell herself had worked with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to document the stories of other survivors.

Fox, who often showed her own emotions during the filming of Inendi while listening to Bell, said one thing in particular caught her off guard.

“What really surprised me is her humour throughout it,” Fox said of Bell. “She has experienced the most unimaginable traumas.”

Fox added it was especially important for her to document Bell’s stories this year. That’s because she found out shortly before filming took place that she was pregnant with her first child.

She’s due in early January and wants her child to eventually watch this film, which is focused on an important family member in Fox’s life.

“The next big thing for me is I will become a mom in the New Year,” Fox said.

But she is also working on another film project. Fox is not ready to release details, however, about that project.

Fox, 33, had studied dance while at a boarding school in Banff. She also spent a year taking acting classes at the New York Film Academy, graduating in 2012.

Her filmography includes appearing as a dancer in a 2016 music short, Once A Tree: Hide, and playing an Indian princess in a TV series called Guilt Free Zone.

Fox has also worked as the host for a pair of docuseries. She has appeared on a number of episodes for Future History, which is broadcast on the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (APTN) as well as Rise, shown on VICE TV.

The link to Inendi, which is 44 minutes in length, is available on CBC Gem in Canada only.

To see the original story and more reports, follow this link.

Boreal Ship Spotter - larger view here