Na’tsa’mat: a healing journey Press Release

MMIWG, Press release, VACPC

September 12, 2017

Drawing Wisdom Presents: Na’tsa’mat, a healing journey – a short film created by Hello Cool World in collaboration with VACPC.

September 12, 2017, For Immediate release: Family members and loved ones of the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG) have long called for a National Inquiry. The newly elected Federal Government was quick to make the announcement that the Inquiry would start in September 2016. Now close to a year in, with the resignations of commissioners and staff, many family members are calling for changes to the process.

Na’tsa’mat, a healing Journey is a short 6 minute film created by Drawing Wisdom and Hello Cool World in collaboration with the Vancouver Aboriginal Community Policing Centre (VACPC). Says VACPC Coordinator Norm Leech: “Now that the Inquiry has begun hearings, it’s critical that the public understands how important the process is for the families and friends. With this film we want people to know that healing is the real goal, and it’s entirely possible. But we need support, knowledge and resources to do it ourselves.”

The Inquiry must accept that it will produce a report with recommendations but it will not heal families or communities. Like it or not, that work will continue to fall to the families themselves and the frontline agencies that have been supporting them from the start. The families and communities know that culturally based and trauma-informed approaches have worked most effectively and can offer sustainable results when those skills are transferred to the families themselves. Much more needs to be done to ensure resources and support are available to families. 

For more information contact:

Norm Leech            

Katherine Dodds     

Jada-Gabrielle Pape


About the film

Na’tsa’mat a healing journey focuses on the need for healing in the light of the National Inquiry on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. (MMIWG).

This short, timely film takes a gentle strengths-based approach to difficult subject matter and explores different ways of healing from trauma: through traditions, through dance and through counselling. 

Produced by Drawing Wisdom and Hello Cool World Media, in collaboration with VACPC. Directed by Jada-Gabrielle Pape and Kat Dodds, with cinematography by D’Arcy Hamilton, the film focuses on the voices of family members of MMIWG.

“Our people have been through so much trauma, and what we want to get at is healing the trauma, “says Lorelei Williams at the beginning of the film. Norm Leech, ED of VACPC recognizes that with the inquiry, it’s a critical time to address the traumas that are going to be re-triggered. “How do we find and seek justice in a society that just doesn’t see it?”  

“We’re talking about Indigenous women, who are some of the most marginalized people in our country. We really need to not stereotype them, they need to be seen as individuals, as real people.” says Billie Jeanne Sinclair.  Sinclair shares a deeply personal example of how important this is. When her aunt Georgina Papin went missing, the images that were shown on the media stereotyped her. Na’tsa’mat co-director Jada-Gabrielle Pape says: “I have used this example in cultural safety workshops, how Georgina Papin’s mug shot was used instead of reaching out to her family, to those who loved her, to find a photo that represents her life.”  

This is what Sinclair is doing, with her Butterflies in Spirit tee shirt she shows her aunt’s image as the beautiful, gregarious, lively women her family thinks of when they remember her. Butterflies in Spirit dance group founder and Na’tsa’mat program coordinator Lorelei Williams talks about how important and moving it is to give dancers, all family members of missing and murdered women and girls, shirts with these beautiful images of their loved ones. It’s a way to honour their memory, and as Sinclair pointed out, to humanize them as “real people.” Women who were all mothers, sisters, daughters, aunts and nieces. Women who were loved, by many.

The film does not just focus on what the trauma has been, but on the resilience and healing that is also going on. “I’m absolutely amazed by the resilience and inner strength of our Indigenous community,” says Lillian Howard.

The Vancouver Aboriginal Community Policing Centre Society (VACPCS) was incorporated in 2006 as a non-profit society by the Vancouver Indigenous community to address social justice issues, improve safety for Indigenous people and build the relationship between the Vancouver Police Department (VPD) and the urban Indigenous community through education, awareness and open dialogue.

Drawing Wisdom is a Hello Cool World collaborative project co-founded by Jada-Gabrielle Pape (Saanich and Snuneymuxw Nations) and Kat Dodds (Descendent of Irish/Scottish settlers). We make films, launch campaigns, hold workshops and create teaching resources. All designed to celebrate Indigenous resilience.

Hello Cool World Media is a full service creative and digital agency working internationally in the areas of health and wellness promotion, harm reduction and social justice. We are grateful to live and work in the unceded Coast Salish traditional lands and waters of the əsəlil̓wətaʔɬ,  Xʷməθkwəy̓əm, & Sḵwx̱wú7meshsi Nations.

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