New Documentary Uses Personal Story to Cover the Rich History of the Cowichan Sweater

The iconic Cowichan Sweater is recognized and coveted around the world, but the deeper history of where these distinctive sweaters come from and the people who knit them is not as widely known. Filmmaker Mary Galloway is about to change that with her new film, The Cowichan Sweater: Our Knitted Legacy.

Though now based out of Treaty One Territory (Winnipeg, MB), the Cowichan and mixed settler descent filmmaker grew up on Vancouver Island, and has a profound connection to the place, people and culture that is the home of Cowichan Sweater: “A vintage black and white photograph of her grandfather, the late Chief Dennis Alphonse, sends filmmaker Mary Galloway on a journey to have a replica sweater made for her in his honour, in doing so she unravels the great history behind the iconic sweaters. She speaks to expert knitters and Elders from the beautiful Coast Salish Territory and hears stories never before told by Cowichan filmmakers, takes an inside look at how the sweaters came to be and the hardships and triumphs of the community.”

As you can see from the trailer below, The Cowichan Sweater: Our Knitted Legacy promises to be a beautiful, emotional and informative documentary about the many ways that this sweater supported and connected a community. Galloway has a gift for tapping into the warmth and humanity of a craft, industry and history by weaving together the intricate stories surrounding the sweater’s inception and survival through the people who make them. It’s also cool to note that the film was made with an entirely Indigenous crew.

The Cowichan Sweater: Our Knitted Legacy starts streaming on CBC Gem on Friday, October 6th, and will be broadcast on CBC TV at 8pm on Saturday, October 7th, 2023.

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