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Canada | Colour | 5.1 Surround
©2023 Elders Film Inc.


s-yéwyáw / AWAKEN

healing people, heals the land
healing the land, heals people

Ecko Aleck of the Nlaka’pamux Nation (Lytton, BC,) Alfonso Salinas of the shíshálh Nation (Sunshine Coast, BC,) and Charlene SanJenko of Splatsin of the Secwépemc Nation (Shuswap, BC,) are learning and documenting the traditional cultural teachings and legacies of their Elders, including the impacts of genocide resulting from Canada’s Indian Residential School (IRS) system. Calling the audience’s attention to the filmmaking process of narrative collaboration between an Indigenous and settler team, this character-driven documentary connects the transformative stories of three Indigenous multimedia changemakers and their four Elders. Infused by Indigenous ceremony, s-yéwyáw: Awaken walks alongside the process of intergenerational healing.

Very much a team effort, the film emphasizes that film-making itself is part of the cultural work.

Original Cin, Liam Lacey

Three participants directly receive sage advice in s-yéwyáw: Awaken, but one senses how knowledge will pass on to many more empathetic ears as viewers immerse themselves in these teachings.

POV, Pat Mullen

Indigenous Elders doc embraces cross-cultural collaboration.

Playback, Taimur Sikander Mirza


Directed by Liz Marshall

Written and Produced by Ecko Aleck, Liz Marshall, Alfonso Salinas, Charlene SanJenko

Executive Producer Liz Marshall

Line Producer Patti Poskitt

Associated Producer Özgün Gündüz

Edited by Eddie O.

Cinematography by Eva Anandi Brownstein, Liz Marshall, Inder Nirwan, Diana Parry

Music Composition by Ecko Aleck

Re-recording Mixer, Dialogue Editor, Sound Design Oscar Vargas

Additional Cinematography Michael Bourquin,
Tamar Kozlov

Location Sound Recordists Ramsay Bourquin, Sandor Gyurkovics, Oscar Vargas

Design by Paul Shoebridge


As Indigenous multimedia creators, and as parents, we are deeply committed to healing, finding our voice and speaking our truth. We can make a profound difference in our families and our communities, as this documentary shows. As fellow producers and writers in collaboration with settler changemakers we are sharing the stories of our Indigenous Elders with the world so that their voices are heard and their knowledge and wisdom are shared with an ethic of care. The teachings of our Indigenous Elders are needed now more than ever to navigate a changing world.

— Ecko Aleck, Alfonso Salinas, Charlene SanJenko


I humbly walk with this film as a settler director at the request of Indigenous friends, filmmakers and the communities who invited me to bear witness to their truths and healing journeys. Guided by Indigenous teachings to bring our whole selves to the work, this film has initiated a profound process of decolonization. I hope it will serve as a model for other Indigenous and non-Indigenous teams working together, toward personal and systemic change.

— Liz Marshall

Produced with the support of
TELUS originals

Developed with the participation of
Creative BC

Produced in association with
Hollywood Suite and Knowledge Network

Funded in part by the
Province of BC Film Incentive BC and the Canadian Film and Video Production Tax Credit