Calgary Aboriginal Youth Filmmakers go to Toronto for imagineNATIVE Film Festival!

Oki, Tansi!

The other night, I attended a screening for a new short film here in Calgary – that short film was Skateboarding Pants. This animation was created by 7-year-old Colton Willier (Cree/Blackfoot) and his friend Ethan Aspeslet-Asels (Dene Tha) with the help of their moms, Amy and Thalia. This short animation utilizes cut-outs and original music created by the group. The boys were successful in their application for the 17th annual imagineNATIVE Film Festival happening in Toronto, ON from October 19-23 this year; they will also be the youngest filmmakers in attendance for this event. What an exciting opportunity for two of our Calgary Aboriginal youth!


The boys will have the opportunity to showcase their film to people from across Canada and also be exposed to other artists creating digital and audio works during the festival. imagineNATIVE Film Festival is “the world’s largest presenter of Indigenous screen content from around the world” and is “committed to creating a greater understanding of Indigenous peoples and cultures through the presentation of contemporary Indigenous-made media art (film, video, audio and digital media)”. To learn more about the festival and charity, or to purchase tickets, check out their website here; for more information on the artists attending this year and the events break down, see this link to their catalog.

Colton is a multi-artist who not only creates film, but also has a passion for drawing. His mother is also an artist and Colton has been surrounded by Native contemporary and traditional art since he was young; his mother runs an art gallery in Calgary with her mother and cousin, called Moonstone Creation. It is located in a quaint little house on a corner in Inglewood. Moonstone Creation also supports other Aboriginal artists through showcasing their items and also purchasing items from these artists for the gallery. Colton and Ethan were busy fundraising through selling leather bracelets at $2.00 each that Colton made; they still have a few left if you are interested! You can contact Amy at or visit Moonstone Creation’s Facebook page here to see some of the beautiful items Amy has created for the boys to wear during the festival. You can also see Moonstone’s website here. Look out for a blog post on Moonstone Creation in the near future too, my dear readers.

Art has been an important part of Aboriginal business for many  decades and with the new technology available to us, we are expanding in our creations, getting our voice out there, re-claiming our identity, and telling our own stories through creating our own media. Organizations like imagineNATIVE also support this re-telling of our stories. Indigenous Busy-ness is looking forward to a Skateboarding Pants sequel and the other work that this duo will create as they grow as artists! Supporting our Aboriginal youth is important to creating healthy, resilient communities and this a great opportunity for these young artists to build their community of supports. The art world can be tough to enter, but the work that imagineNATIVE does is actively breaking down these barriers for many Indigenous artists, nationally and internationally, while also helping to break down old stereo-types by creating understanding between cultures through showcasing our experiences as Indigenous peoples as told by us. There is a hashtag that you can utilize – #in17 – to follow updates on the film festival on both Facebook and Twitter!

Indigenous Busy-ness wishes the best of luck to the boys during the festival and in all of their future endeavours. To catch a re-cap of some Q & A with the young filmmakers, check out this accompanying vlog on the Indigenous Busy-ness YouTube channel. Thank you to the boys and their mothers for welcoming Indigenous Busy-ness to the screening! It is really great to see Aboriginal youth creating their own paths and putting themselves out there! Just goes to show you that the entrepreneur spirit comes in all shapes, sizes, ages, and industries!

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