Director's Note

Chris at Blackfoot CrossingIn between oil-rich Calgary where I live and the tourist town of Banff, there is an Indian reserve. The first time I visited it I was shocked by the broken down homes, the levels of addiction, and the lack of basic infrastructure. How is it possible that we have such levels of poverty in the middle of a land of wealth?

However, I had no aboriginal friends to ask about the situation. The few interactions I did have through media or on the streets were generally not positive. And like many Canadians, my grasp of the history was superficial. I decided I had to learn more. So I headed on a road trip across traditional Blackfoot territory with Cowboy Smithx as my guide and a film crew for documentation.

Elder in the Making is my personal way of exploring the forces of history large and small that has led us to where we are now. It is an invitation for you to connect with a rich and diverse aboriginal culture that has much to share about our home and about our relationship with the land.

The film is only a small start on a long road of reconciliation. Below you will find other ways to engage such as face-to-face workshops, educational material, and resources. Reconciliation is a multi-generational affair that requires an on-going repair and renewal of a relationship with the people that helped build our country. It is my hope that you can be a part of it.

– Chris Hsiung, Producer and Director

Get Educational License

Elder in the Making is a film that crosses many disciplines and curriculum. History, music, ecology, indigenous stories, and questions of identity and the meaning of becoming an elder are integrated together.  Purchase an educational license where you will get the film divided into six episodes for easy presentation in the classroom. In addition, receive curriculum support material, bonus material and resources as they are developed.


Organize a Screening

This film gives audiences a starting point for discussing the troubled and hopeful relationship between First Nations, settlers and newcomers.  Consider organizing a public screening. Contact us for details how to go about it.

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Request a Workshop

We also offer half-day and full-day workshops where participants will have a chance learn more about the stories behind Elder in the Making and get into in-depth conversations on topics ranging from the numbered treaties to residential school. Contact us for more information.

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The Land is the Teacher: Watch it online

We’re proud to present a short documentary that you’ll be able to use in your classrooms in the new year. While Elder in the Making took you to the hot summer prairies of the south, our CBC short “The Land is the Teacher” takes you to the wintry boreal forest of the...

Facing Canada’s Past: The filming of Blood Tears

Our crew led by Cree Director Alex Lazarowich drove into Cold Lake to film with the famed Indigenous artist Alex Janvier. It had taken months to schedule time with this celebrity. Even then he was a very private person and asked us not to film his home. We had just a...

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“The land is like our mother. It is the source of life.”

Narcisse Blood

Blackfoot Elder

“The treaty we broke was the unwritten one based on trust and a commitment to help.”

Chris Hsiung

Producer and Director

“I started questioning my last name, Smith. What the heck was up with that? That’s not a Blackfoot name.”

Cowboy Smithx


Latest News

We Are All Treaty People. Or Are We?

Often I am asked, what inspired me as a newcomer to learn more about Treaty 7? What inspired the roadtrip that became Elder in the Making? As it turns out, it all began with an acknowledgement. Just a few years ago I started hearing an acknowledgement about being on...

Wîsahkêcâhk – Tales from the land

When we approached Billy Joe Laboucan to tell a Wîsahkêcâhk story for the Royal Alberta Museum, he was keen to do it. Then we squeamishly asked, “Can you tell a story in three minutes?” His response was “Absolutely not! There’s no such thing as a three-minute...

CBC: Land and Sea Series

Recently our film crew took a trip up north for our new CBC short film The Land is the Teacher. We arrived at Athabasca Delta Community School that organizes the Experimental Learning Initiative, a special program that is hoping to revitalize the traditional practises...

Elder in the Making Lesson Plan is HERE

The long awaited Lesson Plan that comes with our Educational Licenses is finally ready for distribution. With generous support from Galvin Family Fund and the Calgary Foundation, we were able to recruit a group of educators and students from Mount Royal University....

Treaty Stories

Remember, when we were asking for your help? We sure got it. And now we are exploring Treaty 6, 7, 8 areas, filming in Lac La Bish, Janvier, Saddle Lake, Edmonton, Blackfoot Crossing and more to come. We are working with an amazing group of students, creating...

A documentary film requires an enormous amount of collaboration. We will need camera operators, sound recordists, a sound designer, editors, a colourist, a writer, a graphic artist, performers, marketers, and many others. Elder in the Making also needs a community of people who care about the story, want to learn more about it, and will share the story with others. You can help us make this happen.

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