Women’s Week 2021: Sarain Fox talks Matriarchy, Motherhood and her film “Inendi”

Original Image by Land Back Studios, Original Artwork by Josie Fiegehen

Sarain Fox is an artist, dancer, filmmaker, mother, activist, ambassador, all around badass, and one of my personal heroes. 

“Rise” is a television series on Vice that Sarain hosted in 2017.  It tells the stories of Indigenous Communities across the Americas who are rising up against colonization and protecting their homelands.

“I grew up on Vice magazine and sort of that raw, almost too much kind of media. And I think that it was an appropriate time for the indigenous voices to collaborate in that way. But I’m a vice nerd,” Sarain shares.  

This series  was completely unique for its time in that it told Indigenous stories on a platform that was largely suited to the younger generation.  

Sarain talks about “Rise” coming out of a resurgence of popularity in documentary television.  “The indigenous voice has sort of largely been left out of that space. ‘Rise’ was huge for me. I think it also taught me that there are many ways to be a storyteller. I come from a dance and activism background, and so it really helped me put my journalism into perspective and the possibilities of what journalism can look like and who it can reach.”

Sarain went on to be a part of another television series “Future Histories” which is about the celebration of reclaiming and revitalizing Indigenous knowledge.  She co-hosted this show with Kris Nahrgang to gain a deeper understanding of what it means to have an Indigenous worldview. 

“I think coming off of “Rise, jumping right into “Future History” sort of solidified the idea that I want to tell indigenous stories and I want to lift up the indigenous voice and find out all the incredible things that indigenous people have done to contribute to Canada, but also that are continuing to contribute to our own communities.”

Her television career led her into eventually directing her own film, “Inendi”, telling the stories of her Auntie Mary, a residential school survivor and all around “force to be reckoned with,” says Sarain.  

Sarain is from Batchewana First Nations.  She grew up spending her summers in Goulais Bay where her Auntie Mary Bell lives.  

“I was raised by a single mom, and my auntie Mary helped to raise my mom, so in my life there’s just always been fierce women leading the way.  Those are our matriarchs and my auntie Mary is the oldest surviving elder in our family, but also our matriarch.”

Sarain talks about Matriarchy and her transition into motherhood.   “Everything about how we lead and how decisions are made, and all the important stuff comes to consultation with our women. And I think that it’s really important to exercise right now.”

Sarain recalls a time last year when her mother and her were discussing Matriarchs, “I was like ya, I’m proud to be a matriarch, and my mom out of nowhere was like, you’re not a matriarch yet. I was so insulted,” Sarain laughs as she shares. 

Fast forward a year later and Sarain is mother to a beautiful daughter,  “I understand what she means in a different way now, because the matriarch is not just the mother’s not just the elder… but the matriarch really holds the wisdom and the experience to understand how to lead her community. And so I’m not there yet. That’s my aspirations to be there.”

“I think, for a really long time, we’ve been saying that it’s to put everyone above yourself and in front of yourself and to not take care of yourself first. But it’s actually the opposite, it’s to take care of your own well being and be willing to sacrifice enough to take care of others as well,” Sarain shares lessons learned in motherhood. 

Sarain is a role model for so many, and the community appreciates the example you set for our younger generations!

Watch Aunty Mary Bell share her stories in “Inendi”, available for steaming here. 

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