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YFS Past Screenings & Events

*OPENING FILM* The People of the Kattawapiskak River

This screening took place on
Monday, February 4, 2013 at 6:00pm
Yukon Arts Centre

Plywood walls. Unsanitary drainage systems. No water, no electricity. Outside, the temperature can reach minus 50. This is Attawapiskat, a Cree reserve on the subarctic western shore of James Bay. In the 1970s, the community was home to 600 people; today, there are nearly three times as many residents, adding new layers of complexity to already serious housing and public health problems. In 2011 Theresa Spence, chief of the Attawapiskat First Nation, declared a state of emergency in her community in northern Ontario.

The housing conditions on the reserve made international headlines and revealed the often hidden realities of extreme poverty in one of the world’s wealthiest countries. Acclaimed NFB documentarian Alanis Obomsawin journeyed to Attawapiskat on the shores of the Kattawapiskak River before the media frenzy. Her film introduces us to the residents of the beleaguered community. Through the filmmaker’s gentle, yet unflinchingly honest lens, we are taken inside the overcrowded homes and make-shift shacks as the residents speak of their hardships while revealing hope for the future.

With the Idle No More movement and Chief Spence making front page headlines, this film provides background and context for one aspect of a growing crisis for Canada and First Nations people.

The version of the film being presented includes two epilogue chapters. The first is a visit with some of the people who moved into new housing that was brought into the community in spring 2012, and the second details Attawapiskat’s legal claim against the government of Canada that the government’s intervention of imposing a third party manager to oversee the community’s finances was unlawful and unreasonable. This claim made its way to the Federal Court of Appeal and the hearing was documented by Obomsawin.

Director, Alanis Obomsawin will be in attendance. Q&A to follow the screening.

  • Directed by Alanis Obomsawin
  • 2012, Québec
  • 77 minutes

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