“When I first came to know myself as an artist, I was nine years old .I had just been released from Indian residential school.”
My mother sent me to my grandmother. Titi only spoke Ktunuxa language to me. At that young age she taught me to bead. In the years to come, I would learn to tan hides, sew moccasins and gloves, make teepees, dance and sing our songs.
My father Grand Chief George Manuel & my mother spiritual leader Marceline Manuel were both survivors of the Indian residential school. They taught us traditional values and history but also encouraged us to pursue academic education. I lived history as a participant of the: Traditional Spiritual Revival Movement; Rejection of Funds Movement; Concerned Aboriginal Women’s Movement; Indian Child Caravan; and Constitution Express Support Team. I was always a storyteller and historian because I shared these lived experiences, but I also developed my identity, including my artist identity, through these experiences of empowerment.
Later in life, I adopted the practice of film and media to tell story and express my art. Recording story with media is an extension of our oral storytelling practice. As Alanis Obomsawin taught me, we need to reach our young, to teach them our ways, through the use of that “box” (television).
Throughout the development of my last 4 films I have experimented connecting to the spirits in order to resurrect our traditional storytelling practice, of communication with spirits to receive & guide stories.I work to connect my art to the spiritual world as part of a connected universe.
Doreen Manuel is a storyteller and filmmaker from Neskonlith First Nations, Secwepemc, B.C.