KaYaMenTa: Sharing Truths about Menopause

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#WorldMenopauseDay 18 Oct — tackling the taboo around menopause once and for alll
(18-25 Oct worldwide) KaYaMenTa: Sharing Truths about Menopause' invites our sisters and our viewers to face their own fears regarding getting older, and . To humanize these experiences, we provide a personal understanding of menopause through an Indigenous women’s lens – one that engages with core themes, such as sexuality, aging, spirituality, and healing. Special guests include: Actor Rena Owen, actor Michelle Thrush, comedian Sharon Shorty, musician Renae Morriseau, filmmaker Doreen Manuel, documentarian Jules Koostachin, and Integrative physican Dr. Anita Tannis - all come together to share their experiences.

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Director Bio

Born in Moose Factory Ontario, Jules was raised by her Cree speaking grandparents in Moosonee, and also with her mother in Ottawa, a warrior of the Canadian Residential school system. Jules is a band member of Attawapiskat First Nation, the Ancestral lands of the MoshKeKo InNiNeWak. She currently resides in Vancouver where she is a PhD candidate with GRSJ at the University of British Columbia, and she will defend her thesis/dissertation MooNaHaTihKaaSiWew: Unearthing Spirit in 2020.

In 2010, she completed her masters at Ryerson University in Documentary Media where she was awarded the Award of Distinction for her thesis work, as well as the Graduate Ryerson Gold Medal for highest academic achievement. While in graduate school, she produced her first feature documentary film Remembering Inninimowin regarding her journey of remembering Cree. After graduation, Jules was one of six women selected for the Women in the Directors Chair program at the Banff Center, where she directed a scene from her feature script Broken Angel. Her script recently went was selected for the TIFF's filmmaker lab, as well as the Whistler's Screenwriting lab.

Jules’ company VisJuelles Productions Inc. has a number of films and other media works in development. Her television series AskiBOYZ (2016) co-produced with Big Soul Production is currently being aired on Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (APTN) in both Cree and English. In 2017, she released her documentary NiiSoTeWak: Two Bodies, One Heart and her second CBC short OshKiKiShiKaw: A New Day was released in the spring of 2019. Her third documentary KaYaMenTa: Sharing Truths about Menopause was released in the summer of 2020. Over the years, she has released a number of other films/projects: Butterfly Monument (2017) about her relation, the late Shannen Koostachin with co-director/producer Rick Miller. In the fall of 2018, her narrative film OChiSkwaCho (Winner of a MATRIX Award) premiered at imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival and screened at several other festivals worldwide. 

Jules was the Indigenous Storyteller in Residence with the Vancouver Public Library where she further developed her poetry. Her first book of poetry Unearthing Secrets, Gathering Truths (2018) was published with Kegedonce Press, as well as her memoir Moccasin Souls (2020). Jules is currently represented by The Characters in Vancouver, and recently she is the voice of Layla (Mom) on the new PBS Kids/CBC Kids animated series Molly of Denali. She carries extensive knowledge working in Indigenous community in several different capacities and these community experiences continue to feed her advocacy and her arts practice. 

Director Statement

To humanize these experiences, we provide a personal understanding of menopause through an Indigenous women’s lens – one that engages with core themes, such as sexuality, aging, spirituality, and healing.

Special guests include: Actor Rena Owen, actor Michelle Thrush, comedian Sharon Shorty, musician Renae Morriseau, filmmaker Doreen Manuel, documentarian Jules Koostachin, and Integrative physican Dr. Anita Tannis - all come together to share their experiences.

Personal interviews and fluid conversation between them and all in a glamorous setting encourages open and fun conversation – Native style with lots of joking and tears! KaYaMenTa: Sharing Truths about Menopause allows a platform for IsKweWak (women) to speak to their experiences without interruption.

We all know that menopause is a taboo topic, but have you ever wondered why? Every woman will go through it... so why all the secrecy and embarrassment? Studies show that 8 out of 10 women will experience symptoms of peri-menopause and menopause, so why all the shame? There is a definite need to talk about it because when we do, we will hopefully dispel some of the myths associated with this very normal transition in a woman’s life.

Most recently I went to see the doctor, and asked for help to relieve my night sweats – he prescribed me anti-depressants. WOW, I felt like crying! I went home and researched the medication he prescribed, and it was highly addictive. Why anti-depressants? Am I depressed? I am going through the CHANGE, not the GREAT DEPRESSION. Now lets put men on pause for a while, and shed some much needed light on women’s health and wellbeing from a woman’s perspective.

Like many Indigenous women across Turtle Island, I too am living with the symptoms of peri-menopause, and to be frank, I am tired of not knowing what is happening to my body. I feel like I’m twelve years old all over again, except society romanticizes young girls entering womanhood… so why not honour us, the ones going through menopause?

My Cree mother had a hysterectomy early in her life and my Kokoom has passed away, so there is no left I can reach out to. I’ve been living with night sweats for over 10 years now, and they have intensified. Now I am a walking sauna, living with brain fog, and feeling like an emotional wreck because of my hormonal changes. But seriously though… why is it understood by so many as negative? Mind you, I understand that its not the most fun thing to go through, but it’s a part of life, or is it?

This question led me to ask whether or not Indigenous women have answers to how it was treated in the past, prior to when it was seen as taboo. We do ceremonies for girls when they transition to womanhood with their first menses, but what about when it comes to an end? 

Credits

Directed by Jules Koostachin

Production Company VisJuelles Productions

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