Still from Honour your Word
Still from Honour your Word

On Demand

Honour Your Word

by Martha Stiegman
A powerful doc following new Algonquin leaders, as their community fights to protect their land, their way of life, and their language.
2013  ·  59m  ·  Canada
Algonquin, English
English subs
About the Film
Marylynn Poucachiche and Norman Matchewan faced tear gas and police batons when they joined their parents on the barricades to defend the Barriere Lake Algonquins’ traditional territory in the 1980s. Little did Marylynn and Norman realize they would still be on the barricades over 20 years later, this time with their own young children at their sides. Honour Your Word is an intimate portrait of life behind the barricades for the Algonquins of Barriere Lake, an inspiring First Nation whose dignity and courage contrast sharply with material poverty and political injustice they face. The title refers to their campaign slogan demanding that Canada and Quebec honour a precedent-setting conservation deal signed in 1991. Director, Martha Stiegman, spent four years shooting this poetic, heartfelt documentary that challenges stereotypes of “angry Indians.” Honour Your Word juxtaposes starkly contrasting landscapes—the majesty of the bush, a dramatic highway stand-off against a riot squad, daily life within the confines of the reserve—to reveal the spirit of a people for whom blockading has become an unfortunate part of their way of life, a life rooted in the piece of Boreal Forest they are defending. The film draws us into the lives of two young leaders: Marylynn Poucachice, a mother of five, and Norman Matchewan, the soft-spoken son and grandson of traditional chiefs. Both spent their childhoods on the logging blockades their parents set up to win a sustainable development plan protecting their land. But it turns out signing the agreement was the easy part. Now, 20 years later, Norman and Marylynn are taking up the struggle of their youth, to force Canada and Quebec to honour their word. Their fight seem be an impossible one, but as we spend time with Marylynn, Norman and the community they are so deeply a part of, we grow to identify with the impulse driving a struggle that spans generations. We learn why for people here, standing up is a necessity, not a choice – and what compels them to do so, despite the odds.

Upcoming Screenings

Stay tuned for upcoming screenings!

Festivals and Awards
American Indian Film Festival, Official Selection
Angela Baker
Iphigénie Marcoux-Fortier
Martha Stiegman, Marlene Edoyan and Malcolm Guy
Soundtrack Composer
Stephen de Oliveira
Martha Stiegman
Film Related
About the Director

Martha Stiegman

Martha Stiegman

Martha Stiegman is a passionate and engaged community-media and documentary filmmaker who shares the lives and struggles of the people she films with. Currently based in Halifax, her work has screened in festivals around the world from Tunisia and New Zealand to Brazil.

Her first two documentaries, In Defense of our Treaties (2007) and The End of the Line (2007) explore alliances between Mi’kmaq and non-native fishing communities in her home province of Nova Scotia. She is curently directing, Honour Your Word which follows two young leaders in the Barriere Lake Algonquins’ fight to protect their ancestral lands; and K’at, documenting the importantce of eel fishing for the Mi’kmaq community of Paq’tnkek First Nation. Indigenous struggles and non-native solidarity have been the focus of Martha’s film work, community-arts practice and academic reseach for more than six years.

She holds a joint doctorate in Communications Studies and Political Science from Concordia University, exploring dynamics of Mi’kmaq Treaty Rights Recognition in Nova Scotia.

Other films by Martha Stiegman