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Killam Alum directing documentary on food sovereignty issues in the North

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From left to right: Sarah Robert, Jenny Miller, and Charu Jaiswal in Nome, Alaska.

October 31, 2013

After returning from Western University in London, Ontario this past winter, I came back to Seattle inspired by the individuals I had the pleasure to meet while in Canada. Moreover, my interests in Indigenous ways of knowing the world increased. I also had the chance to become friends with two wonderful students through the Fulbright Foundation’s Killam Fellowship program. At the Killam Fellowship Fall Orientation in Ottawa I met Biology student, Charu Jaiswal from York University, and Film and Media student, Sarah Robert from Queen’s University. What began as a simple conversation about my interest in Indigenous Food Sovereignty has now transformed into a documentary and collaboration between Charu, Sarah, and I, sponsored by National Geographic and the Fulbright Foundation, Canada. Additionally, Native Voices and Communication at the University of Washington have graciously provided us with camera gear to make this project possible.

Our documentary will focus on the transferring of traditional knowledge from one generation to the next in my home state of Alaska and the importance of that knowledge today. We also want to understand what hunting, fishing, and gathering means to Indigenous individual’s identities. I believe that our traditional foods connect us to our ancestors and it is imperative that we (Alaska Natives) continue to manage our foods sources. We will be interviewing Indigenous youth, activists, and elders within the different communities we visit. I want our film and blog to inspire Indigenous youth to proudly continue their cultural traditions.

In August Charu and Sarah departed Toronto and met up with Jenny in the SeaTac Airport to continue onto Nome, Sitka and Anchorage where they will be filming. In addition, Charu, Sarah, and Jenny received additional funding other than National Geographic for our film from Fulbright Canada (The Killam Community Action Initiative grant) http://www.killamfellowships.com/programs/enrichment-opportunities/KCAI.html. Please check out their blog athttp://newswatch.nationalgeographic.com/2013/08/16/young-people-look-to-old-ways-of-hunting-and-gathering/ or follow them on Twitter (@alaskanfood) and Instagram (alaskanfood).

Jenny I. Miller (Wiaganmiu) was a Canadian Studies Killam Fellow in 2012-13. She just graduated with a BFA in Photomedia and BA in American Indian Studies at the UW. In 2013 she was awarded a grant from the National Geographic Society Young Explorer program to produce the above film.

The Killam Fellowships Program provides an opportunity for exceptional undergraduate students from universities in the United States to spend either one semester or a full academic year as an exchange student in Canada. Killam provides a cash award of $5,000 U.S. per semester ($10,000 for a full academic year), an all expense paid three day orientation in Ottawa, and a three day all expense paid seminar in Washington. The Canadian Studies Center is a partner institution with the Killam Foundation enabling up to two full academic year fellowships annually for U.W. students. For more information on the Killam Fellowship contact the Center at canada@uw.edu.

Canadian Studies Center

Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies
University of Washington
Box 353650
Seattle WA, 98195-3650