Celebrating Warrior Women:

Gathering and Talk

April 28, 2018


In conjunction with the co-presentation of the world premiere of the feature documentary, WARRIOR WOMEN, the imagineNATIVE iNstitute is honouring and celebrating our communities' leaders in activism and film through a special, FREE post-premiere gathering and talk, CELEBRATING WARRIOR WOMEN with partners Native Women in the Arts, Vision Maker Media and Hot Docs.

RSVP for the event here (space limited): HERE


Saturday, April 28 | 6pm | 401 RICHMOND ST W, S446

6pm | Doors open

6:50pm | Welcome/Honour Song by Cheryl l'Hirondelle

7pm | Moderated by Ariel Smith,  discussion with Warrior Women leaders and subjects Madonna Thunder Hawk and Marcella Gilbert, filmmakers Christina D. King and Elizabeth A. Castle, Six Nations water activist/filmmaker Dawn Martin Hill and celebrated filmmaker Alanis Obomsawin (whose Kanehsatake: 270 Years of Resistance is also playing at Hot Docs 2018).

8pm | Reception

More information about the film's programming at the Hot Docs Canadian International Film Festival can be found here.




Madonna Thunder Hawk | Activist / Community Leader

Madonna Thunderhawk, an Oohenumpa Lakota, is a veteran of every modern Native occupation from Alcatraz, to Wounded Knee in 1973 and more recently the NODAPL protest at Standing Rock. Born and raised across the Oceti Sakowin homelands, she first became active in the late 1960s as a member and leader in the American Indian Movement and co-founded Women of All Red Nations and the Black Hills Alliance. In 1974, she established the We Will Remember survival group as an act of cultural reclamation for young Native people pushed out of the public schools. An eloquent voice for Native resistance and sovereignty, Thunder Hawk has spoken throughout the United States, Central America, Europe, and the Middle East and served as a delegate to the United Nations in Geneva.

In the last three decades at home on Cheyenne River, Thunder Hawk has been implementing the ideals of self-determination into reservation life. She currently works as the tribal liaison for the Lakota People's Law Project in fighting the illegal removal of Native children from tribal nations into the state foster care system. She established the Wasagiya Najin "Grandmothers' Group" on Cheyenne River Reservation to assist in rebuilding kinship networks and supporting the Nation in its efforts to stop the removal of children from Native families.  




Marcella Gilbert | Activist / Community Leader

Marcella Gilbert is the daughter of Madonna Thunder Hawk and a Lakota and Dakota community organizer with a focus on food sovereignty and cultural revitalization. She earned a Master’s Degree in Nutrition and currently works as a Community Development Field Specialist for South Dakota State University Extension on Cheyenne River reservation. Gilbert was a 2014 Cohort of the Bush Foundation's Native Nations Rebuilders Program.      

Her formative years were influenced by the activism of her extended family’s leadership in the American Indian Movement. She was a seventeen-year old delegate to the newly established International Indian Treaty Council to Geneva in 1977 and a graduate of the We Will Remember Survival Group. This alternative school run by and for Native people, was a remarkable tool for decolonizing and healing the intergenerational damage caused by boarding school. Her goal is to reintroduce sustainable traditional foods and organic farming to her reservation as an expression of the most fundamental form of survival and empowerment. Her current work is the launching of the pilot project of her own survival school Waniyetu Iyawapi (Winter Count) Mobile learning experience.



Alanis Obomsawin | Director

One of the most acclaimed Indigenous directors in the world, Alanis Obomsawin came to cinema from performance and storytelling. Hired by the NFB as a consultant in 1967, she has created an extraordinary body of work—50 films and counting—including landmark documentaries like Incident at Restigouche (1984) and Kanehsatake: 270 Years of Resistance (1993). The Abenaki director has received numerous international honours and her work was showcased in a 2008 retrospective at New York’s Museum of Modern Art. “My main interest all my life has been education,” says Obomsawin, “because that’s where you develop yourself, where you learn to hate, or to love.”








Dawn Martin-Hill (Mohawk, Wolf Clan) holds a PhD in Cultural Anthropology and is one of the original founders of the Indigenous Studies Program at McMaster University. She is the recipient of a US-Canada Fulbright award, Outstanding Teaching Award from the Aboriginal Institutes Consortium, and she has received grants from SSHRC, CIHR and the Ontario Trillium Foundation. Her research includes: Indigenous knowledge & cultural conservation, Indigenous women, traditional medicine and health and the contemporary practice of Indigenous traditionalism. She is Co-PI on a CIHR-IAPH funded NEAHR grant (Network Environments in Aboriginal Health Research), the Indigenous Health Research Development Program (IHDRP).

She has contributed chapters to several books including "Lubicon Women: a bundle of voices" in the book, In the Way of Development (1997) and “She No speaks” in the book, Strong Women Stories (2003). She has her own book titled, The Lubicon Lake Nation: Indigenous Knowledge and Power (2007).

She has also produced three documentaries from a six day Elder’s Summit that she organized which was attended by over 600 elders and youth from across the Americas. "Jidwá:doh - Let’s Become Again" (2005), "Onkwánistenhsera - Mothers of our Nations" (2006),and “Sewatokwa'tshera't: The Dish with One Spoon” (2008). Recently, Dawn partnered with Six Nations Polytechnic and McMaster University in developing the Ogwehoweh Language Diploma and is the co-Chair of Indigenous Knowledge Centre Steering Committee.

She currently holds a SSHRC grant for “Preserving Haudenosaunee language and ceremonies through the digitization and translation of the Hewitt Collection” with community partner Six Nations Polytechnic.  She resides at Six Nations of the Grand River. 



CHRISTINA D. KING  |  Director & Producer

A member of the Seminole Tribe of Oklahoma, Christina’s work spans commercials, documentary, film, and television with a focus on human rights issues, civic engagement through storytelling, and democratizing filmmaker opportunities for minority voices. King started her career in broadcast news, before going on to produce commercials, television, feature films and documentaries.    

King most recently debuted the narrative feature film We The Animals at Sundance 2018 to critical success. The film was awarded the NEXT Innovator Award. King’s other producing credits include This May Be The Last Time (Sundance 2014), which explores the origins of Native Mvskogee worship songs in Oklahoma, as well as the POV documentary Up Heartbreak Hil.   

Other production credits include Ric Burns and Chris Eyre’s, American Experience: Tecumseh’s Vision, as well as Michael Moore’s Capitalism: A Love StoryPushing The Elephant (Independent Lens), Election Day (POV), Six by Sondheim (HBO), Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane ArbusCheand Seven Deadly Sins (Showtime). In 2014 King became a Time Warner Native Producing Fellow through the Sundance Institute. Warrior Women is her directorial debut.


ELIZABETH A. CASTLE  |  Director & Producer

Dr. Castle brings almost 20 years of experience as a scholar, activist, and media maker working in collaboration with Native Nations and underrepresented communities. Warrior Women is based on the research done for her book "Women were the Backbone, Men were the Jawbone: Native Women’s Activism in the Red Power Movement."

While completing her Ph.D. at Cambridge University, she worked as a policy associate for President Clinton’s Initiative on Race and in 2001 she served as a delegate for the Indigenous World Association at the United Nations World Conference Against Racism in Durban, South Africa. While working as an academic specialist for UC Berkeley’s Oral History Office, she received the University of California President’s Postdoctoral Fellowship at UC Santa Cruz under the supervision of Professors Angela Davis and Bettina Aptheker.

Dr. Castle was a professor in the Native Studies Department at the University of South Dakota and is the founder and Executive Director of The Warrior Women Oral History Project. Castle has numerous publications including “The Original Gangster: The Life and Times of Red Power Activist Madonna Thunder Hawk.” Warrior Women is Castle’s directorial debut.




Ariel Smith | Artistic Producer

Ariel Smith is an award winning Nêhiyaw and Jewish filmmaker, video artist, writer, and cultural worker. Having created independent media art since 2001, much of her work has shown at festivals and galleries across Canada and internationally ariel is largely self-taught, but honed many of her skills by becoming heavily involved in artist-run centres in Vancouver, Montreal, Toronto and Ottawa. Her passion for artist-run culture has become an integral part of her practice.

Ariel has over a decade of experience in arts administration and management. She has worked as the technical director of Saw Video Media Arts Centre in Ottawa from 2006 to 2014, was the director of the National Indigenous Media Arts Coalition from 2013 to 2016 and, most recently, was the Executive Director of imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival where she oversaw the 2016 and 2017 festival editions.

Ariel has worked as a programmer for such organizations as Galerie Saw Gallery, the Ottawa International Animation Festival and Reel Canada. She is currently a Guest Curator for an upcoming international indigenous quinquennial exhibition at the National Gallery of Canada.



Welcome/Honour Song by Cheryl l'Hirondelle


Cheryl L’Hirondelle 

Cheryl L’Hirondelle is a community-engaged Indigenous (Cree/Metis/German) interdisciplinary artist, singer/songwriter and new media curator originally from the land now known as canada. Her creative practice is an investigation of the intersection of a Cree worldview (nêhiyawin) and contemporary time-space. Her current projects include: an ongoing series of singles and several media-rich installations from songs co-written with incarcerated women, men and detained youth; a series of international songwriting/mapping with experimental music videos and media-rich installations where she ‘sings land’; a series of Cree language; and a nomadic performative / collaborative light tipi installation. She is also the sole proprietor of Miyoh Music, an Indigenous niche music publishing company and is currently a PhD candidate at UCD in Dublin, Ireland.