"This Ink Runs Deep" Indigenous Tattoo Revival on Turtle Island

I was contacted by Aimer Films Co-Producer and Production manager Mack Stannard in June of 2018 about this film. It was originally pitched to the Telus Story Hive Documentary fund. I was really intrigued by the project and decided I would become part of the project. I had many conversations with Mack as the project progressed and shared my thoughts, feelings and convictions about how this story should be told. I would like to say thank you to Mack and his team for listening to many of my suggestions and I am stoked at how the film turned out.

Here is the original trailer pitch that went to Story Hive.


I am always so humbled and honoured to call such amazing people my friends and colleagues. As I have explored through thought, action and scholarship the movement that has developed around Indigenous tattooing on Turtle Island. And explored the work that we are doing to strengthen our families, nations and the Earth, my initial hunch that this is one of the ways we heal ourselves, is being confirmed. This film gives a brief glimpse into this reality, through the testimony of practitioners.

Kwiaahwah Jones from the Haida nation says, “Tattooing is the first thing I have done where it feels timeless. There’s like this vivid connection that happens, there’s another level of presence I think from our ancestors that comes when we do this work. Gregory Williams also from the Haida Nations says, “They are getting tattoos that signify a part of their life in that moment in time, its like a stepping stone that they need to move on from something.”” Nakkita Trimble shares that for the Nisga’a, “Tattooing wasn’t just for anybody there was a responsibility that went along with the tattoo and the chiefs and the matriarchs would decide who would get a tattoo.

Nakkita so eloquently presents that, “our young people are looking at tattooing and looking at their maternal crests and they are talking with their elders and their communities and their chiefs and their matriarchs. They are reconnecting to some part of them, that is tens of thousands of years old. Our youth are the fastest growing population with the highest suicide rate and so if we can anchor our youth in their identity where they are proud of who they are, then they can feel that in their life and they can feel good about being Indigenous. In the short essay I wrote for the exhibition catalogue for “Body Language: Reawakening Cultural Tattooing of the Northwest,” I share that My Nlaka’pamux tattoos are prayers for my nephews, niece, and for the people to be.” (Kaszas 64)

If you would like to check out the full film here is a link:


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