Though it is important to continually remind ourselves and others that MENA Film Festival exists on the ancestral and unceded territories of the Coast Salish peoples–Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), Stó:lō and Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh) and xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) Nations, we also want to acknowledge that simply making such a statement is not enough.
As a team, an organization and individually, MENA commits itself to the ongoing work to support the peoples on whose lands we live and highlighting the rights of and responsibility we hold toward indigenous communities around the world.
Our commitment to this work includes:
- Prioritizing the work by or about indiginous peoples in the MENA/SWANA region in our programming selection as well as indiginous artists creating films that relate to the MENA/SWANA region.
- Creating opportunities for filmmakers to engage with our local indiginous community, especially artists from indiginous communities in the MENA/SWAMA region.
For example, hosting a conversation between an indiginous scholar and an Amazigh filmmaker who created a film about an indiginous community in Morocco.
- We recognize the importance of offering opportunities to young indiginous artists and arts administrators to learn and grow to build more capacity for indiginous leadership. As a fledgling Film Festival that is learning and growing itself we dedicate time to ongoing conversations on how we can create meaningful opportunities both now and in the future.
- Operating with a “people first” mentality. Nothing is more important than the wellbeing of our community, our staff, our filmmakers and our audiences. If that means cancelling a screening, losing out on revenue or prestige, we accept that consequence. Because there cannot be true healing if we continue to put profit or prestige or anything else before the wellbeing of people.
- Our team members are all committed to learning about indiginous culture, indiginous history and the indiginous perspective, both locally and worldwide, and sharing what we learn with each other. Because it is impossible to respect or support anyone or any community without some level of understanding and a willingness to learn.
- Starting each event with a reminder of whose lands we are on and always using that opportunity to contextualize it or share some of our personal learning to ensure this does not turn into a standardised statement and nothing more.
Please connect with us with any concerns or oversights in what we have outlined, and we will be take the time to hear your thoughts and listen to the community who we serve.
- On the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation give one day's pay to support Indigenous projects, movements, organizations and nations.
- Indian Residential School Survivors Society acceptions donations on their website, in addition to sharing community and support resources.