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#HotDocs21 Review: Mary Two-Axe Earley: I Am Indian Again

May 2, 2021

By John Corrado

★★★ (out of 4)

The 2021 Hot Docs Festival is running virtually from April 29th to May 9th, all films are available to stream for audiences across Canada

In her short documentary Mary Two-Axe Earley: I Am Indian Again, filmmaker Courtney Montour explores the legacy of Indigenous women’s rights activist Mary Two-Axe Earley, who spent two decades speaking out against a provision in Canada’s Indian Act that stripped women of their Indian status and land rights if they married a non-Native man.

A Mohawk woman who lost her legal status when she married a white man, Mary Two-Axe Earley organized a movement, Indian Rights for Indian Women, to lobby the Canadian government to get this law overturned. Montour tells her story through archival footage and photographs, as well as reel-to-reel audio recordings of Earley from an old interview conducted by Alanis Obomsawin. Montour also speaks to Earley’s elderly son, Ed Two-Axe Earley, as well as Nellie Carlson, a founding member of Indian Rights for Indian Women.

One of the through-lines of the film is a conversation with Jodi Calahoo-Stonehouse, a community mobilizer from Edmonton, and her teenaged daughter Isabella, whose lives were changed by Earley’s work and are just learning about her story. In one memorable moment, Isabella reflects on her own conflicted feelings about getting status. At just over half an hour, Mary Two-Axe Earley: I Am Indian Again is a nicely done portrait of an important figure in both Canada’s Indigenous and women’s rights movements.

Mary Two-Axe Earley: I Am Indian Again is available to watch from April 29th until May 9th. It’s screening with the film Sprit to Soar. Digital tickets and more information can be found right here.

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