Makwa Mee Nuun

The plants that live in the Riding Mountain National Park area are seemingly endless, and among those that commune regularly with them are three generations of Anishinabe medicine women – two related by blood, each by friendship.

These plants form the foundation to spiritual, emotional and cultural rejuvenation, not only for those who receive them but for the women that tend to them.

Creative team

Writer/director: Christopher Paetkau
Producer: Mark Young

Filmmaker’s statement

Christopher Paetkau says:

“In 1936, many Anishinabe were expropriated from their land in order to create Riding Mountain National Park. With an aim towards preservation, conservation and recreation, Parks Canada burned homes, alienated and angered the Anishinabe and forbade anyone from utilizing the plants for medicines for over 60 years.

Makwa Mee Nuun tells the story of three generations of Anishinabe medicine women who continue to pick plants in the area and actively work towards reconciliation with Parks Canada. As soon as I was approached by Mark Young from Parks Canada to tell this story of cultural reclamation and reconciliation I knew it would be a life-altering opportunity, not only to spend a lot of time in a beautiful part of Manitoba but to get to know three amazing people: Stella Blackbird, Audrey Bone, and America Hotain.

I figured the best way to tell this story was to let them tell it to me – to really let the information gathering and shooting processes play out as naturally as possible, especially since I was coming into the whole thing relatively cold. I knew nothing about plants and medicine save for the fact that I knew mint tea was stomach-soothing.

But they all had faith in my ability to make a sum of parts and I had faith in them because who they are and what they do makes for a fantastic story, and so onward we went. They’d let me know when they’d go out picking medicines and I’d drive up from Winnipeg, shoot, and then sit down for a meal and a visit, which was always the best part.”

About Christopher Paetkau


Christopher Paetkau is a wanderlust – a rambler in life and thought – who’s taught English in Korea, learned about racism and reconciliation in Riding Mountain, and most recently about education in Myanmar. He was born and fed a Mennonite in Winnipeg and while his family long left the farm, the roll-up-your-sleeves-and-plunge-both-hands-into-life-up-to-the-elbows ethos remains.

Whenever Christopher embarks on this or that, he’s after either overt or covert subversion and inspiration. He looks for the places where dominant scripts, narratives and angles begin to unravel and where image, word and action intersect.

He maintains a heightened vigilance to the various ways in which influence influences and misleads, and he aims to create a positive shift in our interconnected ethical and cultural consciousness towards liberation and, at times, libation.

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