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Prairieaction Foundation Award

Prairieaction Certificate

Stardale Women's Group is honoured to receive for the second time the Prairieaction Foundation Youth Leadership Award for The Road: Sharing Stories of Missing and Murdered Women. Due to COVID-19, we were not able to come together formally but our hearts are connected as one.

The 25 girls of the Stardale program in Calgary with its team of female elders, facilitators and workers guided and supported the processes to heal and break the cycles of abuse and violence directed at them and within their community. These adults assisted the girls in being able to create a narrative that is both a cultural mirror and a "two-world view" for the non-Indigenous Calgary and area community.

Through the creation of The Road, a strategized project that relates to the many females who have gone missing on the Yellowhead Highway, or what is known as the "Trail of Tears," the girls were empowered to become leaders in their community and the larger Calgary and area community. Audiences will learn the impact the numerous murdered and missing women has had on the lives of these young Indigenous women through their storytelling. Storytelling is the traditional way of imparting knowledge and wisdom in our Indigenous community.

Ribbon Skirt Cultural Project

We acknowledge the support of the Canada Council for the Arts under the granting of "Creating, Knowing and Sharing for Indigenous Peoples" for supporting Stardale Women's Group Inc. in the Ribbon Skirt Cultural Project.

It was a mighty effort to complete this project while COVID-19 had limited our contact.

When we began this project with the Elders, the helpers and the young girls coming together, it was magnificent to be part of the synergy which was flowing. Listening to the stories and the guidance from our Elders was beneficial for all whom partook in the sewing circles.

The Ribbon Skirt Project was a component of the performance creation stage production of The Road, which was to launch at the Stardale Gala on May 14. The Gala was cancelled due to COVID-19. Alas, all is not lost, as we will be having all the girls together on the stage in the near future when it's safe to do so.

We humbly thank all the women who assisted in the teaching of the girls how to sew. Several girls made comments as to how relaxing sewing was. It was new beginnings as they learned more on their culture and women's roles in their community.

Ribbon Skirt Project

What's In An Award?

Blog entry #23 in the development of the Road series for Stardale

Written by Eugene Stickland - October 18, 2020

We were all very thrilled and gratified and maybe even shocked to learn that our film The Road had won an award: Best Short Documentary Film at the Montreal Independent Film Festival. As the reality began to sink in, I think all of us must have offered some words of thanks to the Creator for such recognition.

I have been working in the arts for forty years now. My first play was done in 1978, I believe, in my hometown of Regina. I have won awards before in different areas - theatre, literature, journalism - and I have come to realize that each award comes with its own specific reward. It could be money, or fame, or some extra credibility on your resume - you never know.

And that's all well and good. Life can be tough and there's no crime in stoking your ego or padding your bank account from time to time. But once I began to get my head around the significance of this particular award, I came to realize that its significance goes far above and beyond anything I have been involved in before.

First and foremost, for all of us involved, we are so happy for the girls. That's what it's all about at Stardale - the success and empowerment of the girls who take part in the program. To see the look of pride on their faces, to see them see themselves on the screen, to see that dream of being a movie star come true even for a split second is reward enough in itself. I don't know what effect this project will have on these girls in the future, but I can only believe it will help them believe in themselves a little bit more and maybe even make them believe that they can accomplish anything in their lives that they put their minds to.

Secondly, we have to acknowledge the artistry of Venessa Wenzel and her company, Prairie Kitten, along with Helen Young who directed the girls' performances. Kudos all around. I remember back to our first meeting about this project last summer. Helen and I talked about it and came up with a rough game plan. Helen mentioned that she was interviewing some young filmmakers and asked if I would stick around for the first interview. I did and that's when we met Vanessa.

After she left, I suggested to Helen that she cancel the other interviews and hire Vanessa ASAP. Gut feeling, totally. I had no idea about the quality of her work, but I could tell she was a good person with integrity, and you can never go wrong with that. As it turns out, her work is fantastic.

Third, this award is surely some kind of vindication for Helen McPhaden, along with Dr. Linda Many Guns and our Elder, Wanda First Rider. Helen has been working with Aboriginal women and girls, first in Saskatchewan and now in Alberta, for over thirty-five years. I know there have been times of great frustration and hopelessness, even anger, that after thirty-five years there are still so many deaf ears to this important issue. Finally, it would seem that the world is ready to listen. Finally, it would seem, Helen's dedication and perseverance has been rewarded.

And finally, and most important of all, I feel that this award somehow vindicates the memories of all the missing and murdered Indigenous women in Canada over the decades. The voice of our girls is strong. They actually say, in the film:

A mass, vast group of native women.
My sisters, my mothers, my daughters.
You will never be forgotten.

The ultimate award, for all of us involved, would be the remembrance of these women, their dignity restored, and the hope that through the words of the Stardale Girls Class of 2020, this intolerable situation will become a distant if unpleasant memory.

Previous entries can be found in the Eugene's Blog section of the site.

photo of girl with mask on Our Videos

The Road


The Make Believer Project
The Make Believer Project


Pop Up Art
Stardale Pop Up Art in the Park Series for Canada 150


movie camera Life As You Don't Know It - a comic book by young Aboriginal girls.

Research report by Stardale

Alesha's Dream




Stardale is looking to recruit innovative women in Calgary who are ready to work within the framework of our after-school projects for young Aboriginal girls ages 10-17.

Last updated October 20, 2020

Life As You Don't Know It comic book
Designed by Copian in collaboration with Stardale Women's Group Inc. Foundation