We, the MENA-team have ancestors from across the MENA/SWANA region and the world. Our intention is sharing stories from the MENA/SWANA region and its diaspora, creating a platform for an underrepresented group of filmmakers. We believe in the power of storytelling to connect people through shared experiences. Within our work we recognize there are many other voices that are oppressed, including the peoples whose lands we live on, the lands where we present these stories.
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 including the 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 organisation and individually, the MENA Film Festival and its team members are committed to the ongoing work to support the peoples whose ancestors have cared for these lands since time immemorial in their fight for sovereignty by highlighting their rights, taking responsibility for our own actions and using our platform to facilitate difficult conversations.
Our commitment to this work includes:
- Prioritizing the work by or about Indigenous peoples in the MENA/SWANA region in our programming selection as well as local Indigenous artists creating films that relate to the MENA/SWANA region.
- Creating opportunities for filmmakers to engage with our local Indigenous community, especially artists from Indigenous communities in the MENA/SWAMA region.
For example, this year we are organizing a panel bringing together Palestinian and Indigenous people inspired by the film Foragers.
- Organizing community events in collaboration with local indigenous cultural organizations
- We recognize the importance of offering opportunities to young Indigenous artists and arts administrators to learn and grow to build more capacity for Indigenous leadership. As a fledgling film festival that is also learning and growing, 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 Indigenous culture, Indigenous history and Indigenous perspectives, 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 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 accepts donations on their website, in addition to sharing community and support resources
- The Urban Native Youth Association supports Indigenous youth
- Nations Skate Youth: Empowering Indigenous youth to embrace their right to self-determination through the positive impact of skateboarding
- Full Circle First Nations Performance who create opportunities for Indigenous artists
Support Indigenous Artists and Businesses
We added these for a specific post during T&R Week in 2021:
Culture Days offers more options.