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The Spirit Within

The Spirit Within

| 51 min

This documentary looks at various Indigenous spirituality programs that run in western Canadian federal penitentiaries, as well as in some provincial institutions. These programs are led by elders, with assistance from liaison officers. They include workshops, ceremonies, and other traditional methods that help put the incarcerated back in touch with themselves, their culture, and their spirituality. A unique glimpse of the lives of Indigenous inmates.

  • director
    Gil Cardinal
    Wil Campbell
  • producer
    Jerry Krepakevich
  • executive producer
    Graydon McCrea
  • cinematography
    James Jeffrey
  • sound
    Leon Johnson
  • editing
    Gerald K. Wilson
  • sound editing
    Gerald K. Wilson
  • narrator
    Gil Cardinal


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Ages 15 to 18

Ethics and Religious Culture - Religious Diversity/Heritage
Health/Personal Development - Healthy Relationships
Indigenous Studies - Identity/Society
Social Studies - Social Policies and Programs

The importance of having a positive self-identity is a core message of The Spirit Within. Many incarcerated Aboriginal people struggle to come to terms with their culture while also facing cultural clashes with institutional employees (30:00 to 34:30). How would cultural awareness help to create a more positive correctional environment? What is the symbolism of the circle (39:00)? Ask students to consider ways they might apply the image of the circle (45:00) to mediating conflict in their own lives. Content guide: Language

The Spirit Within
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