Meneath: The Mirrors of Ethics charts the challenging journey of a precocious Métis Baby Girl as she contemplates her path to Hell. Using interfering screens in an object reminiscent of a puppet theatre, this stop-motion installation unearths hidden Indigenous values and illuminates the bias of our colonial systems.
In the middle of Turtle Island, a Métis Baby Girl is born. Her childhood wonder is disrupted when Jesus appears and tells her about the so-called sins of humanity. Convinced she is soiled and destined for Hell, the abuse and racism she endures leave her riddled with self-loathing and fear. To quell her trauma, Nokomis brings light to the Anishinaabe Teachings buried deep within Baby Girl. For every alleged Sin, Baby Girl is given a Teaching that fills her with strength and pride, and affirms a path towards healing. Diving deeply into the innate contrast between the Seven Deadly Sins (Lust, Gluttony, Greed, Sloth, Wrath, Pride and Envy) and the Seven Sacred Teachings (Love, Respect, Wisdom, Courage, Truth, Honesty and Humility), Meneath (“island” in Anishinaabemowin) speaks to her journey but also leaves room for others to reflect on their own journey.
Through a system of interfering screens, Terril Calder forces our gaze below the surface to witness a dissection of the colonial narrative, physically shifting the dominant Christian perspective. The installation offers an augmented reality-type looking glass into the Indigenous ethical voice that often remains hidden. Indigenous Teachings are reflected from the earth and fused into the story to create a unique viewing experience that’s dependent on where you stand in relation to the interfering screens. This avant-garde, highly political installation is reminiscent of a puppet theatre—echoing the puppet theatre within the story—thus creating a mise en abyme and suggesting an infinitely recurring sequence. Calder’s tour-de-force unearths a hauntingly familiar yet hopeful world that illuminates the bias of our colonial systems.
Featuring the voice of Gail Maurice (Cardinal, Tricksters) and edited by award-winning artist Jeff Barnaby (Rhymes for Young Ghouls, Blood Quantum).
Meneath: The Mirrors of Ethics unearths hidden Indigenous values through interfering screens, illuminating the bias of our colonial systems.
Written and Directed by
Design, Animation and Compositing
Puppets, Sets, Props, Costumes
Traditional Costume – Baby Girl
© 2021 National Film Board of Canada (SOCAN)
Kate Bevan-Baker, violin
François Jalbert, guitar
Sheila Hannigan, cello
Geoffrey Mitchell (NFB)
Jean Paul Vialard
Animation Technical Specialist
Rosalina Di Sario
Senior Production Coordinator
Anishinaabe Syllabic Chapter Titles
Willie J. Ermine, M.Ed.
Brandon Michael Mohammed
© 2023 National Film Board of Canada