September 26, 2021

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PODCAST INTERVIEW WITH FILMMAKER COURTNEY MONTOUR ON MARY TWO-AXE EARLEY’S HISTORICAL FIGHT FOR INDIGENOUS WOMEN’S RIGHTS

PODCAST INTERVIEW WITH FILMMAKER COURTNEY MONTOUR ON MARY TWO-AXE EARLEY’S HISTORICAL FIGHT FOR INDIGENOUS WOMEN’S RIGHTS

Courtney Montour listening to filmmaker Alanis Obomsawin’s 1984 recordings of Mary. | Credit NFB

Mary Two-Axe Earley is an iconic Indigenous woman warrior who took on the Canadian government to fight for the rights of Indigenous women. There was a time in Canadian history that if an Indigenous woman married a non-Indigenous man she would lose her status as an Indigenous person. This sexist and misogynistic law was eventually abolished thanks to the movement she led.

Kanien’kehá:ka filmmaker, Courtney Montour, honours and pays tribute to Two-Axe Earley by giving us an intimate look into her life and tireless journey. As the film opens we are introduced to Mary through archival recordings being listened to by Montour. She reflects on her personal connections to Mary Two-Axe Earley as they are from the same community of Kahnawake. Montour pieces together archival footage, and recent interviews with activists who describe the fearless actions of Mary and Indigenous women from that historical movement.

Montour is known for helming projects that examine what it means to be Indigenous. From her first documentary Sex Spirit Strength, about reclaiming Indigenous sexual health and gender identity, to working with Alanis Obomsawin on Flat Rocks, which revealed the effects that the development of the St.Lawrence Seaway had on her home community- Kahnawake.

During the 2021 Hot Docs Canadian Film Festival, I got to talk with Courtney about the importance of her film Mary Two-Axe Earley: I am Indian Again and how the actions of the past still affect the lives of Indigenous women today.

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About The Author

Erica Commanda

Born in Toronto, Erica Commanda (Algonquin/Ojibwe) grew up in the small community of Pikwakanagan. From there she moved across Canada living in Ottawa, Vancouver and now Toronto, working in the bar/hospitality industry, mastering the art of listening to stories from her regulars while slinging and spilling drinks (at them or to them). And now through a series of random decisions and events in life she is on a journey discovering and mastering her own knack for storytelling as a Staff Writer for MUSKRAT Magazine.

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