CANMORE – Celebrating Indigenous voices, culture and knowledge, artsPlace will host the latest film in the Indigenous 150+ series at the start of December.
“It's really important to Indigenous 150+ and to artsPlace to make space for the creative voice of the Indigenous filmmaker,” artsPlace program manager Nicole Fougère said. “It’s so important to be listening to all voices in the Bow Valley ... we have many Indigenous connections.”
Indigenous 150+ is a film and speaker series that runs across Canada and is designed to inspire conversation and unpack the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Calls to Action while putting Indigenous voices centre stage, Fougère said.
The latest Indigenous 150+ movie nîpawistamâsowin: We Will Stand Up comes to artsPlace on Tuesday (Dec. 3).
The film explores the story of 22-year-old Cree man Colten Boushie who was killed in 2016. Boushie was shot after he and his friends entered Gerald Stanley’s rural property. Stanley was acquitted of murder charges at trial. The story of Boushie's death captured international attention to the embedded racism within Canada’s legal system.
"Colton Boushie’s family is very brave,” Fougère said. “The story of how his family stood up for themselves was very meaningful. It’s a painful story, but it’s an important story to tell.”
Directed by Tasha Hubbard, nîpawistamâsowin: We Will Stand Up creates a narrative exploring the colonial history of the prairies and a vision for the future that ensures the safety of Indigenous children in Canada.
“There’s a lot of injustice that moves through our Canadian systems. It’s important to talk about these things," Fougère said.
Nîpawistamâsowin: We Will Stand Up is a powerful movie that will evoke strong feelings in audiences, creator and CEO of Indigenous 150+ JoAnne Fishburn said, describing the anger, disbelief and compassion she felt watching the inequality and systemic racism Boushie’s family faced after his death when they were dealing with the Canadian justice system.
“It’s ironic that we even call it a justice system because there’s nothing about justice in this story,” Fishburn said. “I was shocked and the film does a great job of lifting the veil on the racism that is within the justice system.”
It is a special film, she said, because it tackles the long history of injustice faced by Indigenous people in the Canadian justice system.
“This is an incredibly important film through the lens of a Cree filmmaker Tasha Hubbard,” Fishburn said. “She brings her own personal history, the history of that area and territory and the systemic racism within the justice system into a very clear focus.”
Fishburn added that it is inspiring to witness the courage and conviction of the Boushie family as they fight for change within the Canadian justice system.
It is important to acknowledge and stand up to colonial history of Canada, she said, and the conversations that take place after Indigenous 150+ films serve as an opportunity to challenge and change established stereotypes while exploring how families like the Boushie’s are re-traumatized in their fight for justice.
“There are two things going on at the same time – there’s an erasure of stereotypes and creating space for understanding the richness of Indigenous cultures,” Fishburn said. “This is a film that every Canadian should see … and [then] add their voices to the Justice for Colten Campaign.”
It is critical to create a place to amplify these Indigenous voices, Fougère said, explaining that artsPlace can serve as a vehicle to create a space for these voices to receive respect and acknowledgment from the community.
Talking about these issues can aid in encouraging healing, she said. ArtsPlace, Indigenous 150+, the artistic team behind nîpawistamâsowin and local community members and have collaborated to create a panel to facilitate positive discussion after the film.
Nakoda Sioux, Dene, and Blackfoot nation member Lonnie Dixon will moderate the event accompanied by Stoney Nakoda elder Alice Kaquitts.
Dixon said he appreciates how the movie shows the failure of the Canadian justice system to maintain the rights and safety of Indigenous people in the country.
The inequality dates back to the signing of treaties between Indigenous people and European settlers, he said, describing how Indigenous people lost their freedoms and saw the promises made by the settlers largely broken and ignored.
Dixon added that this trend has continued to this day and one can see it within the justice system.
“You aren’t born with racism,” he said. “It’s taught.”
Dixon hopes that the screening will serve as a community event that brings people together to discuss colonization and the issues and injustices that persist in contemporary Canada.
“The verdict of the Colten Boushie case just shows that it’s open season on Indigenous people – especially Indigenous men,” he said. “That it’s OK to shoot people and just get away with it.”
There is a need for education so people can understand the history that has led to the injustice seen today.
“One of the biggest ways to tackle racism and systemic racism is to create conversations and have a relationship with Indigenous and non-Indigenous people,” Dixon said. “It’s important to have these conversations so we can have equality and equity within the Canadian system.”
He added that these discussions are a step forward in the reconciliation healing process because they bring the community together as a whole to share knowledge.
“Reconciliation needs to happen on all levels – individual, community and government,” Dixon said. “Individually we need to do our part … and try and influence change.”