From Guest Articles

innu people

Innu: The Sub-Arctic Hunters

Everything you need to know about the indigenous nomadic Canadians…


GEOGRAPHY

The Innu inhabit a region in Canada that they themselves refer to as ‘Nitassinan’, which means ‘our land’ in their ancient language, covering a section of Quebec and parts of Labrador on the east side of the country.  The Nitassinan covers a vast subarctic area of forests, lakes, rivers and rocky barrens .

The communities in Labrador consist of Sheshatshiu, the meeting point of the Grand Lake and Lake Melville, and Utshimassit, which is an island just off the north coast of Labrador.

innu geography

POPULATION

They’re comprised of roughly 18,000 people in eleven communities in Quebec and two in Labrador, although these are spread out across different regions. Sheshatshiu contains 1000 Innu people, while Utshimassit holds around 500.

They are normally split into two groups. The first are the ‘Neenoilno’, sometimes called the ‘mountain people’ or the ‘Innu proper’, who reside lower down on the north shore of the Gulf of Saint Lawrence in Quebec. The second are the far fewer Naskapi, who live further up north in the Quebec and Labrador regions.

The primary language of the Innu is ‘Innu-aimun’, but they also speak English and French, which is one of the native languages in Quebec. Most Innu are Christians and are members of the Cree, one of the founding nations of the aboriginal Canadians.

CULTURE

innu cultureTraditionally, the Innu people live in cone-shaped skin tents, relying on the caribou, a moose-like creature, as the primary resource for their materials in making their housing, clothing and other objects.

They also eat the caribou, along with squirrels, hares, geese, ducks, salmon, trout and many others. The Innu and their ancestors have always been known as hunter-gatherers, summed up by their tendencies to hunt for animals and use their skin to sustain life and shelter. They sometimes used the hides of the animals they hunt to create buckskin- used for boots, house covering and storage.

Another key tradition in Innu life is crafting, and it is custom that children are given the classic tea doll, which is a toy made out of cloth and caribou hide. The idea behind the tea doll is that children could play with it whilst also carrying small, yet important goods, such as tea, inside the doll.

CONTROVERSIES

While the Innu are a peaceful people, this has not prevented other groups, organisations and governments from innu strugglesattempting to sabotage their tranquil environment.

In a conflict known as the Beavers Wars in the 1600s, the Innu were subject to attacks from the Iroquois, a powerful Candian region at the time, and enslaved their women and warriors defending the tribes, as well as raiding their materials they had gathered over time.

More recently, the New York Power Authority has come under criticism for its contract with the province of Quebec to buy power from their hydroelectric dams, because the construction of electric transmission lines to harness the power would disrupt the Innu’s hunting lifestyle.


Article written by Oli Gamp

being free

Being Free with Tariq Nasir

“LABF will be the beginning of a movement of people who want to make a better life for themselves and their families.”

tariq nasir

Tariq Nasir was born in New York to a Palestinian father and American mother, living in Palestine as a child before fleeing to Jordan as a refugee with his family during the 1967 war. Being free became a very important focus in his life.

After growing up in Jordan, he studied International Business in the U.K. and worked for many years in the financial industry, before making the decision to move into film and live with the purpose he had taught his children about for years – making a positive difference in the world.

That is the main reason he founded the Let’s All Be Free Festival. We spoke to Tariq about freedom and what we can learn from Let’s All Be Free…

What does it mean being free?

In one word it is equality. Being given equal status is an important part of what it means to be free in my opinion. When I was a child I was a witness to war and was made a refugee with my family.

During that period of time I was not given the same rights as others, and was put in a position where I was seen less deserving than the occupiers who had taken our home.

If people are given the same rights, they can then through hard work and education make a life for themselves and their families and feel what it is like to live freely.

Why do we need to be free in our lives?

I would say that we don’t HAVE to be free in our lives, it is up to us to choose how we want to live our lives in the end. I’m just asking for people to be conscious of the decisions they make about how they live their lives.

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I think too often people are living unconscious lives and don’t realize they are as free as they think they are. It is my personal opinion that people are much happier when they live free lives to pursue the things that inspire them.

What can we learn from Let’s All Be Free?

We can learn that everyone has a story. A story that can be shared and appreciated by others.

We can learn that it is just as important to listen and hear other people’s stories, as much as it is important for others to hear our stories.

We can learn that great and important things can come from dialogue, and from including a whole community to share in what it means to be free, and what it means to be alive.

We can show others what great potential lies in all of us as humans to do good and constructive things for the world we live in.

In conclusion, why did you found Let’s All Be Free?

My hopes are that Let’s All Be Free will be the beginning of a movement of people who want to make a better life for themselves and their families through constructive means.


Article written by Alex Izquierd

Exploring Freedom Through Immigration in ‘Vanishing Borders’

Alexandra Hidalgo is a documentary filmmaker, an assistant professor of Writing, Rhetoric, and American Cultures at Michigan State University, and the co-founder and editor-in-chief of agnès films, an online community of women filmmakers that seeks to support and foster the work of women behind the camera. image credit – Aidan Tyson

I am fascinated by the ways that freedom and immigration intersect. I grew up in Venezuela but immigrated to Dayton, Ohio when I was 16. In my new home, I experienced how liberating yet constricting the immigrant experience can be. I had no past in Dayton, no history. I was able to choose what I loved best about myself and craft a new story. And yet, I was limited by my lack of knowledge about the nuances of American culture and the intricate hurdles of expressing myself in a tongue that wasn’t my own. I had a blank canvas upon which to invent myself but only a few colours available to me. As the years went by, however, I acquired more and more shades and hues as the American culture became an integral part of who I am.

When I was trying to decide what to make my first feature documentary about, the immigrant experience made the most sense because it had shaped who I am and because immigrants are an often maligned and misunderstood population. I wanted to tell a story that would humanize immigrants for viewers. The resulting film, Vanishing Borders, explores the immigrant experiences of four women—Teboho Moja, Melainie Rogers, Daphnie Sicre, and Yatna Vakharia—who came from various places around the world to settle in New York City. The more I got to know these women and their spectacular stories, the more clear it became to me that they are bringing richness and complexity to those who interact with them in their new home.

[…]

A Woman’s Place

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Tina Ledger is author of ‘The Angry Lesbian’: a gender, sexuality and current events blog, dedicated to continuing discussions on queerness & feminism.

From an incredibly young age, our society’s gender expectations are made evident; young girls are given dolls houses, hair accessories and toy kitchen wear/dinner sets to entertain themselves with, whereas boys are handed fishing rods, footballs, tennis rackets and other sporting equipment. Essentially, boys are handed freedom, whereas girl’s gendered toys keep her confined in the home.
[…]

Male Nudity in Cinema – or lack thereof.

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Writer, feminist, and film fanatic, Silvia Rose was Film Editor of the University of East Anglia’s newspaper ‘Concrete’, and has since moved to London from the mountains of North Wales to explore the Big City and find inspiration in it’s multi-cultural buzz and constant stimulation.

Cinema has always reflected cultural values, so one would think that in our apparently liberated and open-minded society that there would be less of a bias of nudity in film. However, there still exists a startling double standard in terms of what is shown on screen. Women’s bodies have always been on display, whether for artistic, pornographic, or more recently, advertising purposes, and this over-saturation within the media makes female bareness almost banal. Think of breasts. They’re everywhere, even in mainstream Hollywood blockbusters (maybe especially so). The female form is no longer restricted to daring art-house pieces; it is there for the taking, laid out to be looked at, criticised, or lusted after. Male sex organs are far less exposed.

[…]

Interview with Jennifer Reeder, director of ‘A Millions Miles Away’.

tuff guyWe spoke to Jennifer Reeder, who’s film ‘A Million Miles Away’, was screened at the Sundance Film Festival in 2015 and won numerous awards internationally. She gives us an insight into her inspirations, her filmmaking process and why you should apply to film festivals.

Tell us about your job, what you do etc. 

More and more, I am making money as a filmmaker, but my “day job” is as a professor in the Moving Image area of the School of Art and Art History at the University of Illinois at Chicago. I teach filmmaking and screenwriting.[…]

A Life Apart by Henrietta Ross

A guest article by Henrietta Ross, a writer and blogger with bipolar disorder. Henrietta explores a variety of topics through her blog, including issues of mental health, and writes monthly for the International Bipolar Foundation, as well as for Black Dog Tribe - Ruby Wax's mental health organisation. She also writes for online magazine Blirt, and is working on her first novel. In the below piece, she shares her perspective on how her mental illness - and society's treatment of her - makes her feel free.

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Beyond The First Amendment by Jaclyn Lyons

A guest article by Jaclyn Lyons - blogger, student and features editor at Beyond Good Ideas magazine - about what being free has meant to her in her development as a writer, and overcoming the obstacles within herself along the way.

When I was a young child, strangers probably assumed I was a mute. I barely spoke to my own family and had to have my mother volunteer in my classroom until I overcame the severity of my separation anxiety in the second grade. I was a prisoner to my anxiety that back then was simply called shyness.

“Why won’t Jackie talk?” other children in my class would ask.

“Oh, she’s just shy,” people would say.

In kindergarten my teacher thought I was memorizing my books at home since I could read them so quickly and with ease, but I wasn’t; I was reading. I had no problem using the voice of another--in this case it was a character called Mortimer Frog--but I couldn’t find the courage to use my own. When my teacher learned that it wasn’t memorization, but an early talent nurtured by my parents, she sent me to reading group with kids in the grade above me.

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Freedom™ by Nadia Nasir

In case you haven’t noticed, America is absolutely crazy about freedom. Well, not necessarily ‘freedom’, per se, but Freedom™ — as brought to you by the United States of America. You know, stars, stripes, and unalienable rights. The freedoms of speech, press, petition, assembly, and religion. The freedom to purchase guns and the free market system. Fat-free, meat-free, free of blemishes and human deficiency (à la Hollywood); discrimination-free, segregation-free, free to think what you want, do what you want, and achieve what you want regardless of sex, race, religion, or disability.

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Freedom To Ignore by Layla Carr

Layla Carr is a Washington DC-born blogger and science fiction writer. She recently graduated with a B.A. in Philosophy, and is currently based in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, where she works a day job and routinely gets up-in-arms about feminism, traffic jams, and people who are wrong on the internet. She can be reached at laylacarr12@gmail.com.

My childhood holds a whole mass of things I try not to dwell on unless absolutely necessary – middle school, braces, and tie-dye to name just a few. Along those lines, I haven’t thought seriously about the Catholic church since I was fifteen, and being forcibly ejected from bed every Sunday morning, to spend an hour in a drafty room with a bunch of strangers that smelled of incense and old lady perfume, with nothing to look forward to at the end besides a stale donut. […]