About the Title

Carleton rests on unceded Algonquin land, and therefore the filmmakers wanted a title that was in the language that is Indigenous to this territory.  The term Kinàmàgawin is Anishinabemowin for “learning together” or “the art of learning.”


Kinàmàgawin originated as an Undergraduate Honours thesis when filmmaker Melissa Santoro Greyeyes-Brant was a student in the Institute of Interdisciplinary Studies at Carleton University.  Inspired by a research project undertaken at the University of British Columbia called What I Learned I Class Today. Melissa wanted to create a similar project on a larger scale that would reflect the diversity in voices at Carleton. Kinàmàgawin features instructors, faculty members and students from across various disciplines and stages in their academic programs (e.g. undergraduate to PhD), and voices from all three Indigenous groups (First Nations, Inuit, and Métis) in addition to non-Indigenous voices.

Project Components

There are three main components that make up the Kinàmàgawin suite:

  1. Film (42-minute documentary)Kinàmàgawin makes visible discussions of Indigenous issues in the classroom, and works to facilitate more productive and inclusive classroom environments. Students (including undergraduate and doctoral candidates) and faculty across various disciplines share memorable moments of classroom discussions on Indigenous issues. Several common themes recurred throughout the interviews, which are highlighted in the film. Although the interviews are Carleton-specific, many of the issues are systemic and operate at an institutional level.  These dynamics are not exclusive to Carleton or educational institutions.
  2. Resource Guide: This guide is specifically designed to accompany the film and provides in-depth information related to the themes and issues raised in the documentary. The resource material is specifically designed to guide facilitators, instructors, students, or counsellors to implement discussions or to engage in interactive activities surrounding the issues. It is designed to be used in a variety of contexts, such as classrooms, meetings, or workshops.  The resource booklet also includes models for workshops, discussion questions, activities, common reactions to the project/film, and strategies for responding.
  3. Workshops: The Centre for Indigenous Initiatives offers Kinàmàgawin workshops to all groups on campus (faculty, TAs, in classrooms, staff departments, etc.). A minimum of an hour and a half is typically required to deliver the workshop. For more information and to schedule a Kinàmàgawin workshop, contact us.

The Kinàmàgawin film, resource guide, and workshops are valuable tools that are transferable and can be used in academic institutions and non-academic settings.

The film and resource guide can be found here.

About the Filmmakers

In 2011-2012, Melissa Santoro Greyeyes-Brant was a Master’s student in the School of Canadian Studies at Carleton University in Ottawa, Ontario. She studied in the First Nations Studies Program at the University of British Columbia and completed her undergraduate degree in the Institute for Interdisciplinary Studies at Carleton. The film Kinàmàgawin was created as part of Melissa’s undergraduate Honours Thesis and was financially sponsored by the Department of Equity Services. Melissa had worked collaboratively with Equity Services and the Centre for Indigenous Initiatives (formerly the Center for Aboriginal Culture and Education) in facilitating de-colonial workshops at Carleton University in order to raise awareness and to challenge the stereotypes and racism that exists when discussing Indigenous issues in the classroom. The reasons for pursuing this film for Melissa were two-fold.  Originally inspired by a similar project undertaken by colleagues Karrmen Crey and Amy Perrault at the University of British Columbia (www.issuesintheclass.com), Melissa recognized the need to expand on their work and recreate the project on a larger scale.  Secondly, being the mother of a young mixed-heritage, status Indian, Melissa was motivated to be involved in a project that could create positive change for future generations.  Melissa is of Italian-descent, holding dual Canadian and Italian citizenship.  She was raised in a mixed Indigenous household, with extended family in Six Nations, Ontario.  She lives in Ottawa with her husband and son who are registered members of the Mohawks of Tyendinaga.

Howard Adler has a Bachelor of Arts in Indigenous Studies from Trent University, and an Master of Arts in Canadian Studies from Carleton University. He is an artist who has worked in diverse mediums, including visual art, sound art, stained glass, theatre, dance, video editing, and film. Howard is also an award winning author and a filmmaker whose works have been screened in numerous film festivals. In 2009 Howard won first place in the Canadian Aboriginal Youth Writing Challenge with his film script “Johnny Seven Fires”; his documentary film “Niizaatikoong: Return to our Homelands”, was screened at Thunder Bay’s Biindigaate Film Festival in September 2010; his film “Honour Song” was screened in Ottawa at Saw Video’s “Resolution 2011”, and in Toronto at the 2011 ImaginNATIVE film festival. When approached to co-direct the Kinàmàgawin film with Melissa, Howard was very enthusiastic.  Being First Nations, and a former student, he was also personally affected by difficult classroom discussions of Indigenous issues and was passionate about creating change. Howard worked as a Video Editor with the Métis Centre at the National Indigenous Health Organization, and is the co-founder of the Asinabka Media Arts festival in Ottawa, Ontario. Howard is Jewish and Anishinaabe, and a member of Lac des Mille Lacs First Nation in North-western Ontario.

Film Screenings & Media

The film has been screened in various settings and has received media attention.

Screening and presentations have included:

  • Canadian Association for the Prevention of Discrimination and Harassment in Higher Education (CAPDHHE) Conference, University of Alberta. Edmonton, AB. June 14, 2011.
  • Carleton University. Ottawa, ON. January 19, 2012.
  •  Odawa Native Friendship Center/ Urban Indigenous Alternative High School. Ottawa, ON. January 22, 2012.
  •  Educational Development Center, Teaching Assistant Training, Carleton University. Ottawa ON. February, 2012.
  •  Professional Teaching Session, Halton District School Board and the Ministry of Education. Milton, ON. February 28, 2012.
  •  Trent University. Peterborough, ON. March 20, 2012.

Media Coverage:

  • Indian Country Today
  • Arthur, the Peterborough and Trent University Independent Press. Print Edition.
  • Charlatan, Carleton University Student News. Print Edition, January 2012.