Mary Two-Axe Earley with her grandchildren (1978). | Photo by Esmond Choueke

Now Streaming: Learn the Story of Mary Two-Axe Earley for National Indigenous People’s Day

Short doc honours the Mohawk activist

3 mins read

“I had a vision that I won day would be free again, free to be myself, to be an Indian,” says Mary Two-Axe Earley in this short documentary. “I lost that freedom 45 years ago. It was divested by a law…Set my sisters free.”

Listen to the words and wisdom of a woman who shaped history for generations of Indigenous women in Mary Two-Axe Earley: I Am Indian Again. This short documentary, released by the NFB for free streaming today to mark National Indigenous People’s Day, tells the story of the Mohawk activist for fought for the rights and freedoms of Indigenous women by challenging the elements of sex discrimination embedded in the Indian Act. Director Courtney Montour explores Earley’s legacy by drawing upon the work of another icon, filmmaker Alanis Obomsawin, who interviewed the activist extensively in 1984. As Montour listens to the conversations between Earley and Obomsawin, and starts new discussions at the very same table at which the elders chatted years ago, the film brings history into the present by engaging the next generation in the impact that Earley’s work has on their lives today.

“It impacts identity and whether we’re allowed to be in our home communities,” said Montour in an interview with POV when asked about how the film situates Earley’s fight against the Indian Act within the larger conversation of genocide. “That is an important part of understanding why we have the missing and murdered Indigenous women. If Indian status is key to belonging to a community, if you can’t live in a community, if you can’t vote in your community’s governments, and if you can’t serve on various boards, it takes away the ability to engage and be an active part of a community. It also takes away access to critical programs, like cultural and language resources are often tied to status. It really is a way to separate First Nations women and children from their communities and from their culture. That’s why Mary’s work is so important.”

Watch Mary Two-Axe Earley: I Am Indian Again today from the National Film Board of Canada.

 

Mary Two-Axe Earley: I Am Indian Again, Courtney Montour, provided by the National Film Board of Canada

Presented in partnership with the NFB.

Pat Mullen is the publisher of POV Magazine. He holds a Master’s in Film Studies from Carleton University where his research focused on adaptation and Canadian cinema. Pat has also contributed to outlets including The Canadian Encyclopedia, Paste, That Shelf, Sharp, and Complex. He is the vice president of the Toronto Film Critics Association.

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