Seven Fallen Feathers is heavy medicine and I could only take it in small doses. When I read that Canada's Indian Act had been used as a template for Apartheid in South Africa, I felt physically ill.
Another curious thing occurred about taking the book with me and reading in public. There were frequent, spontaneous conversations with strangers. It seemed everyone had an opinion or their own heart breaking tale to share. I met two people with direct experiences in Thunder Bay that included open acts of racism (like having a beer bottle thrown at your head from a passing car) and the tragedy of suicide within the family. All of a sudden being a Canadian meant something different to me.
Our People Will Be Healed is 85-year-old Alanis Obomsawin’s 50th film. It follows a school in a Cree community that experienced a remarkable increase in high school graduates after introducing ancestral culture to the curriculum.
Both of the film presentations were accompanied by Q&A sessions and social events. This gave us a chance to learn more about Obomsawin's and Clements' creative vision and decades long careers. Obomsawin had a lovely grace about her too and I could only wish to "grow up" and be like her.
The film on the next evening was The Road Forward, Marie Clements’ stunning musical documentary about First Nations activism, told through seven story-songs, performed by an ensemble of some of Canada’s finest vocalists and musicians. I will never forget the opening scene where the keystrokes of a 1920s typewriter are paired up with the urgent sound of a tribal drum. The ensemble acting in this film was seamless and the collection of activist musicians from across Nations was inspiring. Please let there be a CD released of this soundtrack! Anyhow, long story short –these two films tell much-needed, honest, good news stories of resilience.