NiiSoTeWak: Two Bodies, One Heart

NiiSoTeWak means “walking the path together.” Traditional Cree teachings claim that although identical twins are born with two separate bodies they share one heart. Tapwewin and Pawaken are 10-year-old brothers trying to make sense of the world, their family, and each other. They’re already grappling with some heady questions about identity. What does it mean to be a twin? What does it mean to be Cree? How do you define yourself when you’re forever linked to someone else? The twins discuss these questions with their two elder brothers, 22 year-old actor Asivak and 20 year-old basketball player Mahiigan, and their parents, Jules and Jake. The twins’ ancestry is rooted in Attawapiskat First Nation, Moshkekowok territory, yet they’ve lived most of their lives in urban centers. Their Cree identity is informed by their parents’ and grandparents’ cultural experiences. Like many First Nations youth today, the twins are amidst challenging times. They’re caught between contemporary and traditional worldviews, experiencing the shift between rural and urban settings. And like many of their friends (both Indigenous and non-Indigenous), they’re part of an evolving family structure, merely trying to make sense of the world they’ve come into. NiiSoTeWak is an honest and raw glimpse of what it is like to be a twin and the reality of being a Cree twin in unfamiliar territory - unceded territory of the Coast Salish Peoples, to be exact. In this short documentary film, Tapwewin and Pawaken explore the significance of their names and the stories behind them, including the challenge of having to sustain the significance of cultural ways away from their home territory.

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