Set My Spirit Free

This short documentary film attempts to define the human spirit. This story attempts to define what it means to be human, what it means to be Canadian, what it means to be Albertan, what it means to understand the ancient art of drum-making.

Doug Kirkness is a custom knife-maker and drum-maker from Stettler, Alberta. He is our guide. Kirkness guides this story and his class of 9 students as they embark on a 3 day journey through the ancient art of creating a spirit. Kirkness tells his students, “If you try and do it perfectly we need to chat.” Three spirits come together to create a single entity, explains Kirkness, “It’s the spirit of the tree that has gone into the drum, it’s the spirit of the animal that has died for the hide, and it’s the spirit of the maker.”

This is a powerful personal story. The human spirit is clearly on display, transparent as a teardrop.

“At the root of it all, human beings are a social being,” explains Holly MacGougan, one of Kirkness’s students. The echo of a drumbeat floats across Alford Lake, up high along the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains.

Set My Spirit Free