Photo of Theola Ross by Sean Stiller
Storytelling is more important than ever as we all face the unique challenges this year has brought us.
Stories entertain, inspire and transform. They remind us of where we come from and where we can go. We need more stories to free our imaginations and open our hearts to create a path of understanding and healing.
Today (Giving Tuesday) is a wonderful opportunity to empower storytellers who are making a difference. Your support for the students we train at the National Screen Institute – Canada (NSI) allows them to develop creatively and change our world through the power of story.
NSI students are blessed by the commitment of NSI’s Board of Directors – 100% of whom have donated to NSI’s annual fund. Please join them in supporting our students by donating today and making the power of story even more powerful. Donate $20 or more and CanadaHelps will add an extra $2.
Your donation helps storytellers like Theola Ross from Pimichikamak Cree Nation in northern Manitoba who says having well-established people believe in her instilled a confidence she’ll never forget. Read more about her in our exclusive interview below.
Theola’s film, êmîcêtôcêt – Many Bloodlines, developed through NSI IndigiDocs with producer Alex Bailey, follows Theola and her white partner through their pregnancy and journey to parenthood. From the search for an Indigenous donor and midwife to their concerns about raising a child as an interracial queer couple. It’s been sweeping award categories at film festivals across North America.
Throughout December, we’ll be sharing more stories from NSI alumni and board.
Take care, stay safe and thank you for all the ways you show your support.
• • •
If you could describe your experience with NSI in three words what would they be, and why?
Homecoming: Winnipeg is the place I was born and the closest city to my reserve, Pimichikamak. When I’m back there, I always feel this air of commitment, as an Indigenous person, that doing what I love and following my passion is a form of resistance.
Humbling: I’m also reminded that while following my passion, not to forget where my roots are.
Inspiring: While participating in the program with other Indigenous people and having mentors like Alanis Obomsawin speak in one of the workshops gave me the motivation and the confidence to hone in on my badassness.
How did your training through NSI help you get to the place you’re at in your career today?
I have such gratitude to the people at NSI. To have well-established people in their careers believe in me instilled a confidence that I’ll never forget.
How did your instructors, mentors, and peers influence you to become a better storyteller?
I am forever amazed at how generous the community is in sharing their skills. The stories the mentors told earlier in their careers resonated with me. These mentors paved the way for a person like me to get out there and take the plunge and not to be scared of the consequences.
What advice or encouragement would you give a prospective applicant considering NSI programs?
Don’t hesitate to apply and make sure you pick a team you trust. We, as filmmakers, must learn to self-care and part of that self-care is sitting with people in the film industry that you can trust and listening to all the things they’ve been through and, most of all, listening to the advice they share.
What has your career trajectory looked like between when you completed training and now?
My confidence has increased, I’m less likely to hesitate about things. Especially connecting with experienced folks in the field, when people give you their contact information – use it. Ask a lot of questions.
What was the most transformative part of your learning experience?
Throughout my career, I’ve adapted motto’s from other Indigenous filmmakers, especially when telling stories of our histories not only as Indigenous people but as women. To me, this is a fundamental inherent human right – knowing your history, where you come from and where you’re going.
What skills did you acquire in your NSI program that you did not have before?
What project(s) are you currently working on?
I’m currently dabbling in writing web series and docuseries.
Where can people find out more about your work online?
My Facebook page, or on Instagram @albatross32
What is your favourite Canadian film / TV show / web series?
Mohawk Girls, Schitt’s Creek, Kim’s Convenience, Beach Combers, Workin’ Moms.