Filmmaker Erica Daniels pays it forward by sharing the Seven Sacred Laws.
Storytelling saved her life, and filmmaker Erica Daniels is paying it forward by capturing and conserving Indigenous Elders’ knowledge, wisdom, and stories.
“Being a storyteller and having an eye for story and visuals, it was always there,” Daniels says. “It’s something I’ve always just been interested in. When I was in high school, I was introduced to a program called Just TV that was run out of the Broadway Neighbourhood Centre; I was able to advance my talents. That program, really, it saved my life.”
During the past decade, The Foundation has made multiple grants in support of Broadway Neighbourhood Centre’s Just TV. Today, Daniels is an award-winning Cree/Ojibway producer, director, and founder of Kejic Productions, her production company based out of Winnipeg.
For nearly her entire adult life, Daniels has been telling stories and supporting her community through the skills she honed through Just TV and her schooling. Before she found film production, Daniels had a difficult time navigating her youth.
During Daniels’ teen years, by her own account, she was struggling with making the right decisions. But learning technical skills and honing her storytelling ability gave her an outlet, a purpose, a direction, and many new connections. And now, she’s paying it forward with her production company, volunteer work, and a variety of programs aimed at helping youth who are going through experiences similar to hers.
“A lot of the time, young people feel silenced. They don’t feel like they have a voice or that people are listening to them, simply because they’re young,” Daniels says. “But what they have to share is so important. Especially if we want to change things for the future, we need to listen to our young people.”
Through Just TV, Daniels connected with Elder Dave Courchene and Turtle Lodge, an International Centre for Indigenous Education and Wellness, who she’s been working with for nearly 10 years.
Daniels was recently asked to direct the Seven Sacred Laws animated web series, written by Elder Courchene, that tells the story of a young boy on a vision quest: an Indigenous rite of passage.
“I was very honoured just to be involved because the Seven Sacred Laws are such important teachings that a lot of people aren’t aware of,” Daniels says. “Being able to share that story, putting the visuals to it, and bringing people from all nations into the lodge to listen to Elder Dave share this vision, was so incredible.”
Daniels is excited to continue to tell stories, continue giving a platform to Indigenous voices, and continue her work maintaining the wisdom of the elders in her community.
“Working with [Elder Dave Courchene] has just been such an honour for the past 10 years,” Daniels says. “I’ll continue to work with them, and the Elders Council with the Turtle Lodge, to ensure that their wisdom is captured and will never be lost.”
The Winnipeg Foundation is honoured to learn from and work with Elder Dave Courchene and the staff of Turtle Lodge International Centre of Excellence in Indigenous Education and Wellness. Winnipeg Foundation staff attended a retreat at Turtle Lodge in 2019.
To watch the Seven Sacred Laws web series, visit: turtlelodge.org/the-seven-sacred-laws/
Erica Daniels was recently a guest on The Foundation’s podcast, BeCause & Effect. Read more about the podcast – BeCause & Effect season highlights, or go to becauseandeffect.org to listen.
Scenes from the Seven Sacred Laws web series.
This story is featured in the Fall 2021 issue of our Working Together magazine. Download or view the full issue on our Publications page.