MHC welcomes Sunlight Media Collective for film screening, Panel Discussion

The University of Maine McGillicuddy Humanities Center (MHC) will host a free screening of, and discussion about, the new documentary “This River Is Our Relative,” featuring subjects of the film and representatives of the Sunlight Media Collective, at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 9 in the Collins Center for the Arts. 

“This River is Our Relative” is about the Penobscot Nation’s intrinsic kinship connection to and tireless environmental advocacy for the Penobscot River. The story is told through the voices of 24 Penobscot people, who share their experience of historical, physical and spiritual connection to this waterway. They also share how the river is connected to their cultural identity and survival. Their narratives are interwoven with a traditional Wabanaki story about how The People and Glouskap defeated a greedy monster frog, Aklebemu, who was hoarding all the water. This story parallels both historical and present-day environmental concerns and is also the origin story of the Penobscot family Clans.

This documentary shows the Penobscot Nation’s dedication to environmental justice and their efforts to minimize pollution. It also demonstrates the importance of respecting inherent Tribal sovereignty and celebrates the Penobscot peoples’ ongoing river-based cultural traditions.

A panel discussion after the screening will feature film participants and Penobscot Nation members Jennifer Neptune, Jus Crea Giammarino, Jan Paul, Gabe Paul, Kathy Paul (Sunlight Media Collective member and co-director of the film) and Maria Girouard (co-founder of Sunlight Media Collective).

The event, which is part of the 2023-24 annual MHC symposium, “Rivers,” will also be streamed on the center’s YouTube page.

The Sunlight Media Collective is an organization of Wabanaki and non-Wabanaki media makers working to document and raise awareness about issues affecting Wabanaki people, with a particular emphasis on the frequent intersection between environmental issues and Tribal rights. Sunlight Media Collective’s work facilitates understanding, analysis and historical context, and provides educational opportunities for alliance building, social change and environmental stewardship.

The MHC supports excellent teaching, research and public engagement in the humanities to deepen understanding of the human condition. It supports programs that foster intellectual curiosity, critical reflection and creative innovation. Central to the center’s work is the belief that the study of the humanities inspires compassion across differences, develops empathy, strengthens critical thinking skills and cultivates the emotional and intellectual agility needed to navigate an increasingly interconnected and complex global landscape.

For more information or to request a reasonable accommodation, contact the MHC at