On Making The Meaning of Life: An Interview with Hugh Brody


An interview with Hugh Brody—an anthropologist who has worked for over thirty years with Indigenous peoples in Canada and abroad—on the making of The Meaning of Life. His documentary examines Kwìkwèxwelhp Prison in the Fraser Valley of British Columbia. Operated in collaboration with the neighbouring Chehalis First Nation, Kwìkwèxwelhp (Kwi) is a minimum-security prison that offers programs to Indigenous and non-Indigenous prisoners based on Indigenous spiritual and cultural philosophies. A key figure in the men’s lives is Grandma Rita Leon, an elder-mentor whose approach is to separate the crime from the man. By the film’s end, some of the men have been successfully discharged from the prison; some have not. The Meaning of Life explores the challenging issues accompanying the journey to recovery while also reflecting on the meaning of a life lived in prison.

This article “On Making The Meaning of Life: An Interview with Hugh Brody” originally appeared in Prison Writing. Spec. issue of Canadian Literature 208 (Spring 2011): 30-47.

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