First Nations dark history with the RCMP brought to light in Colten Boushie doc, Nîpawistamâsowin: We Will Stand Up

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      A documentary by Tasha Hubbard. In English and French, with English subtitles. Rating unavailable

      In 1995, the last Conservative premier of Ontario, Mike Harris, reportedly told police, “I want those fucking Indians out of the park.” The next day one of the unarmed Stoney Point Ojibwa occupying Ipperwash Provincial Park was shot by officers who said the stick he held in his hand was a weapon. Dudley George’s family was prevented from taking him to a nearby hospital, and he eventually bled to death.

      That event, scarcely a quarter-century old, found echoes in the 2016 case of Colten Boushie, shot in the head by a Saskatchewan farmer who apparently viewed rowdy Cree youths—who had been drinking and messing around on other people’s property—as a gang of Trayvon Martins to do with as he pleased. The policeman who killed Dudley George was convicted of negligent homicide, and did community service for his crime. But Boushie’s killer didn’t even face that much reckoning. He was acquitted after his lawyers went with “the magic-gun defence”, claiming it went off accidentally.

      Both cases deprived the general public, and the injured parties, of the opportunity to confront some pretty grotesque inequities built into Canadian culture and law. Saskatoon filmmaker Tasha Hubbard certainly has a knack for being in the right place at the right time—with just the right camera placement—and was able to capture both the specifics and the larger issues raised by this horrific incident. The DOXA award-winning film also features animated segments that lay out the dark history of relations between Prairie First Nations and “settlers”, with the RCMP as frequently brutal enforcers.

      Hubbard’s mellifluous narration helps frame the background and the fallout here, with Boushie advocates and relatives providing both anger and some kind of resolution. In particular, Boushie’s cousin Jade Tootoosis emerges, to her own surprise, as a powerful spokesperson for legal redress to transgressions still hanging over the nation. The fact that her family received death threats will be no shock to anyone familiar with online comments about the case. This heartbreaking tale hits a nerve that won’t be unstruck anytime soon.