SCARP Prof. Jessica Barudin shares insights from her film and doctoral research

People dressed in Indigenous regalia on stage

SCARP Assistant Professor Jessica Barudin recently returned from a conference in Norway put on by the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association, where she presented some insights of her doctoral research, through the lens of her own film, "Braiding Knowledge through Breath, Language, & Movement". 

Sharing her film with this international audience, Barudin provided space for embodied practices, discussing ways this work may influence institutional and academic settings with embodied ways of being. Her lens centered intercultural sharing and learning along with language reclamation and revitalisation. 


The Native American and Indigenous Studies Association (NAISA) are interdisciplinary, international scholars working in the fields of Native American and Indigenous Studies broadly defined. They've become the premier international and interdisciplinary professional organization for scholars, graduate students, independent researchers, and community members interested in all aspects of Indigenous Studies. NAISA is also responsible for the journal Native American & Indigenous Studies (NAIS), published by the University of Minnesota Press.

NAISA's annual meeting welcomes faculty and students in colleges, universities, and tribal colleges, community-based scholars and elders, and independent professionals working in the field. 

Woman hanging onto bars in front of waterfall

Braiding Knowledge through Breath, Language, & Movement

Written, Directed and produced by Jessica Barudin. 
Edited by Carmen Pollard. Cinematography by Cody Preston

This film offers a celebration of First Nations women and their communities who are brought together through their love of yoga, healing, and reclamation of ancestral languages and lifeways. 

Based on doctoral research by Dr. Jessica Barudin and Kwakwaka’wakw and First Nations women leaders, the First Nations Women’s Yoga Initiative (FNWYI) collaborators introduce a community wellness strategy that braids cultural and spiritual knowledge systems through a trauma-informed lens. The doctoral research underscores the importance of co-creating a Kwakwa’la language-learning community strategy in tandem with yoga and Indigenous wellness practices with the aim of collective healing and community caring. A model for the cross-cultural learning, engagement, and empowerment of Indigenous women is proposed at the intersection of Indigenous health, wellness, and language revitalization. 

This film provides a tool for the knowledge-gathering and sharing processes that were shaped by Kwakwaka’wakw women and two-spirited folks in (re)connecting to their bodies, their families/communities, and the land. Participants explore concepts of embodied language learning in a Kwak'wala-specific practice as well as experience the impact of co-regulation on learning and community visioning.

Dr. Barudin made her directorial debut with this documentary film chronicling the transformative journey of bringing yoga to First Nations women as a means of individual and collective healing. This film highlights the evolution of her healing work and personal story. It serves as a praxis for Indigenous community planning and collaborative filmmaking alongside Indigenous women, aiming to foster resilience and well-being through integrated practices of breath, language, and movement. 

The film was recently selected for the Vancouver Short Film Festival and screened on May 31 and VIFF. 

Of the film, Dr. Barudin says:

"Braiding Knowledge through Breath, Language, and Movement" is a film born from a deeply personal and communal journey into the heart of healing and language reclamation. In this documentary, we explore an Indigenous community wellness strategy that intricately weaves together cultural and spiritual knowledge systems through a trauma-informed lens. As the director, I am honored to present a narrative that unfolds within the rich culture of Kwakwa̱ka̱ʼwakw territory, where for the first time, Indigenous and South Asian yoga practitioners—teachers and learners alike—come together.

This convergence is not just a meeting of individuals but a profound gathering of shared histories and kinship, celebrating the reconnection to our bodies, communities, and the land. The practices of yoga and language reclamation serve as our tools for navigating and healing the historical and intergenerational traumas that our communities have endured. Each breath taken and each word spoken in our ancestral tongues is an act of resistance and reclamation, a step towards undoing the erasures inflicted by colonization.

Our film is a testament to the power of collective healing. It is about the resilience of the human spirit and the reclaiming of ancestral wisdom. Through "Braiding Knowledge through Breath, Language, and Movement," we invite audiences to witness the transformative power of yoga parallel with cultural resurgence, encouraging a dialogue that transcends geographical and cultural boundaries. This is more than a film; it is a movement towards a more mindful and connected world, guided by the wisdom of the past and the shared hope for a healthier future.

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