"Mi'kmaq Family | Migmaoei Otjiosog" by National Film Board of Canada (DVD)

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Mi'kmaq Family - Migmaoei Otjiosog is a 1995 National Film Board of Canada film directed by Mikmaw filmmaker Catherine Ann Martin. This 32-minute DVD is a new parent's exploration about the techniques of modern childrearing through the experience of Mi'kmaq elders. During a summer gathering at Chapel Island, Nova Scotia, while celebrating Saint Anne's Day, the Mi'kmaq families share stories, renew friendships, and take pride in their cultural traditions. In this context, Catherine Martin connects with relatives and friends with her new infant and seeks guidance from her female relatives and Elders. During the event, speeches recount the devastating impact of residential schools on Native families and communities. During this dark period, the impact on the strength of family structure was almost completely damaged. But some of the child-raising methods survived. Sarah Denny and other Elders recount the strength of the matriarchal structure of Mi'kmaq kinship. The extended family had a role in raising children. Even today, grandmothers and grandfathers teach children by example, during berry picking, picking plants such as sweetgrass, playing traditional games, and music. Whether it is prenatal instruction, celebrating the baby's first tooth, or singing to the young child, Elders play a special role in the family structure. Often male Elders teach the child about the importance of the eagle feather. Today's parents have many additional issues to deal with while raising their children. Drugs and alcohol are major concerns. Contemporary families are also experiencing changes in cultural traditions. Despite this, the film shows the viewer there are resources to tap for learning how to parent their children. Stressing that there is healing in songs, Sarah Denny teaches Catherine Martin traditional singing and drumming.

National Film Board of Canada
39 mins