Documentary portrays challenges of Algonquin people in Canada

Barriere Lake reservation joins in solidarity in Martha Stiegman’s Honour Your Word.

Martha Stiegman’s documentary Honour Your Word screened at the Mi’kmaw Native Friendship Centre, on Monday.

The 59-minute film, first released in 2014, follows the struggle of the Algonquin people of Barriere Lake, Ont., and their demands Canada honour its word and promises made in the 1991 conservation deal.

The film portrays the Algonquin people in their community, their homes, at school, and at the protests, all of which are intended to be peaceful.

Honour Your Word film poster (Photo:
Honour Your Word film poster (Photo:

Stiegman also spoke about collaborating with the Algonquin people. The film is her fifth documentary on the subject of indigenous struggles.

“I hope it leaves you as inspired as I was,” she said.

Stiegman first interacted with the Algonquin people during a highway protest where she witnessed police brutality against the protesters.

“I had never seen them tear gas children and the elderly before,” she said.

The film shows the members of the reserve holding signs asking to stop arrests and the unsolicited use of pepper spray and batons by police.

“I felt a responsibility to those people after meeting them that day,” said Stiegman.

Protests on the highways near the reserve are ongoing to remind the government it is Algonquin land and shouldn’t be subject to logging and government-funded development.

Many of the interviewed indigenous people in the film told stories of being arrested or hurt while trying to protect their ground; some moved to tears in testimonials about the potential loss of their land.

The people are fighting for the next generation and protection and conservation of their culture, their land, and their safety.

CORRECTION: March 10, 2015 | An earlier version of this story misspelled Barriere Lake and incorrectly identified it as being in Alberta.