Michael Greyeyes says his role as Sitting Bull in the upcoming film Woman Walks Ahead is the most significant and important artistic endeavour he has undertaken. 

"The humanity of Sitting Bull and how he represents a community in crisis is really gripping and I think people can't help but come in to a new understanding of how history works, how history repeats," said Greyeyes. 

Greyeyes, an associate professor of performance and devised theatre at York University, will play in the film as Sitting Bull opposite Academy Award-nominated actress Jessica Chastain as Catherine Weldon. 

He said he hopes the story find its audience and that people really appreciates what the story is about.

"I think they'll learn something really significant about Indigenous rights, about empowerment and the power of people who resist," Greyeyes said. 

The film

The film's screenplay was written by Steven Knight (Eastern Promises) and is directed by Susanna White (Generation Kill). The film, currently in post-production, will be released in 2017. 

Greyeyes said the film is set prior to the Wounded Knee Massacre, when the ghost dance ceremony was prevalent throughout the prairies. 

"There was violence around each corner and I look at the United States right now and it's not dissimilar," Greyeyes said. 

Greyeyes mentions an instance where he was reciting his lines, lines he says which were about not giving up ownership to the land. While he was saying his lines, he said he was very aware of the events unfolding around him such as the U.S. election and the protests in Standing Rock. 

"For a movie that's been in the making for over a decade, it's timely beyond anything I could have imagined," he said. 

Greyeyes thinks the movie has the potential to have a huge impact because of the way media is consumed now. He said people might read a book about what happened but actually seeing it will be a different experience. 

"When you see it unfold in human terms, it grabs you in a different way," he said. 

With files from CBC's Shauna Powers