According to writer/director Katherena Vermette, Winnipeg’s Red River is, “The reason we’re here”. She means that the first indigenous peoples found this land by sailing the river, as did later European explorers. The city itself sprung up around the river, and was crucial to its development. But now, this river is largely ignored – at least until it becomes a crime scene.

The Red River is where the local crime elements dump bodies. Though the local police is often quick to investigate the disappearances that involve most people, they are slow to act when an indigenous person goes missing, if they even act at all.

They are even less likely to go looking for someone like Kyle Kematch’s sister, who has been missing for two years. Karl recognizes that his sister made some poor choices (she was a prostitute), but laments that, “It shouldn’t matter what your race is or what you do”. But, sadly, it does matter here.

This is why Karl and others volunteer for “Drag the Red”. They organize their own searches in an attempt to “shame the police for their inaction”. this river illuminates the efforts of these people, all of whom have lost someone or know someone who has. It is this need to take action, to do something that inspires them to trawl the river for clues. It is part closure, and part protest, but wholly motivated by the desire to make the community a better place.

Screens (as part of Solid Ground: Canadian Shorts):
Thursday, October 20, 2:15 PM, TIFF Bell Lightbox

Tickets can be purchased at the ImagineNATIVE website.

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