Earlier this month, I attended a film screening of nîpawistamâsowin: We Will Stand Up directed by Cree filmmaker Tasha Hubbard. The film follows the family of the late Colten Boushie, a Cree man from Red Pheasant First Nation in Saskatchewan, as they search for justice after Boushie was shot and killed by Gerald Stanley, a non-Indigenous farmer, for entering his property. Hubbard takes the viewers through the court proceedings where ultimately, Stanley is found not guilty for Boushie’s death by an all-white jury.
When the news came out, Boushie’s family tells us that Colten was painted as a criminal as they read aloud online comments from news stories and social media channels saying that Colten ‘got what he deserved’. The hate, racism, and disregard for Boushie and his family, is heartbreaking. In a time when there is so much talk about reconciliation and repairing relationships, the blatant anti-Indigenous racism directed at an innocent young man and his grieving family makes me wonder how that can be possible. Throughout the film, Hubbard looks back at various racist, assimilationist policies implemented by the Canadian government to provide context about how we got to this point.
Hubbard shares her own story and includes powerful moments where she is speaking with her children, two young Indigenous boys. These moments were powerful for me as they caused me to think about the kind of world we are leaving for young people and how we must do better as non-Indigenous people to confront and challenge racism and hate, to fight for social justice, to stand in solidarity with Indigenous peoples and to listen.
The film screening in Kingston opened with remarks from Deb St. Amant, Elder in Residence in the Faculty of Education at Queen’s University. Deb brought attention to a recent incident of homophobia and anti-Indigenous racism in the city where a note threatening Indigenous and LGBTQ2+ students was left in a student residence room. Her words were a reminder to those of us in the audience that racism is embedded in our city as well and that we have much work to do locally as well.
Nya:wen to Terri-Lynn Brennan of Inclusive Voices for sponsoring the film and thank you to the Kingston Canadian Film Festival for bringing this important story to our city.