Alanis Obomsawin is one of Canada’s most prolific filmmakers. At 85 years-old, and with an astounding 50 films under her belt, she has been an integral figure in promoting both indigenous culture and the issues that impact First Nation communities across the land. Last year, with her film We Can’t Make the Same Mistake Twice, she provided a scathing commentary on Canada’s horrific history with residential schools and its lingering impact on the lack of proper funding that modern indigenous communities receive. This time around Obomsawin latest film, Our People Will Be Healed, offers an optimistic look at what can be achieved within First Nation communities when provided with adequate support.
Focusing on the Norway House Cree Nation, one of Manitoba’s largest First Nations communities, Obomsawin shows that decolonization can benefit not just a community, but a country as well. In Norway House a former residential school has been transformed into a magnificent and innovated education centre, one that also incorporates community managed industries (e.g. radio station, police dispatch centre). Aside from the basic teachings of reading, writing and arithmetic found in most schools, Norway House features mandatory education on Cree heritage, including treaty knowledge, language lessons, and learning to survive off the land.
An inspiring and powerful work, Obomsawin ensures that the many problems that face indigenous communities are not forgotten in the face of progress. She reminds the audience of the emotional damage caused by residential school, the pains of the numerous unsolved murders and missing person cases involving indigenous women, and the colonial systems instituted by government which unjustly treat First Nations people like second-class citizens. While Canada as a nation still has much work to be done, especially in terms of establishing the proper systems and funding in place to strengthen and impower the indigenous population, Obomsawin shows that the folks in the Norway House Cree Nation are providing examples that we could all learn from.
Saturday, October 21, 3 PM, TIFF Bell Lightbox
Ticket information can be found at the imagineNATIVE website.