In her documentary movie nîpawistamâsowin: We Will Stand Up filmmaker Tasha Hubbard tells the story of Colton Boushie a young Cree man who died from a gunshot wound in 2o16 after he and his friends drove their truck onto a Saskatchewan farmyard. A jury acquitted farmer Gerald Stanley of murder charges agreeing he had killed Colton in self-defense.
Colton Boushie’s mother, sister, and other family and friends at the United Nations telling their story
After the trial, Colton’s family felt the legal system had failed them and took their fight for justice to Parliament Hill in Ottawa and then to the United Nations. Hubbard documents this whole process on film. I saw We Will Stand Up last Wednesday night at the Cinematheque Theater in Winnipeg.
Filmmaker Tasha Hubbard’s documentary is very personal since she juxtapositions her own story with Colton Boushie’s. Tasha was adopted by a non-aboriginal couple as a child. Tasha says her adoptive parents were loving and affirming people and when she became a teenager they helped her find her biological family and encouraged her to connect with her aboriginal heritage. This puts Tasha in a unique position to tell the story of the relationship between the indigenous community so incensed by Colton’s death and some of those in the colonizer/settler community who supported Gerald Stanley.
The pivotal scene in the movie for me was when Tasha and her young son are talking to Tasha’s adoptive grandfather. Tasha has made it clear previously in the film that she and her grandfather share a deep love and respect for one another.
Tasha and her grandfather talking
Her grandfather has saved some First Nations artifacts he uncovered as he tilled a piece of farmland he purchased many years before. Looking back he wonders if he did the right thing buying and farming land that really belonged to First Nations people. Something made him save the artifacts he found and he feels it is the right thing to pass them on to his beloved granddaughter.
He and Tasha and Tasha’s son talk about the Colton Bushie trial and Tasha’s grandfather wonders aloud if owners shouldn’t be allowed to defend their land. Tasha’s son is taken aback thinking his great-grandfather is suggesting perhaps the Boushie murder was justified. But responding to his great-grandson, the great-grandfather agrees the killing was wrong. Later Tasha’s son suggests that the three of them smudge together and they do.
For me, this was a very moving moment. I respected the willingness of Tasha, her son, and her grandfather to honestly talk about the deeply entrenched feelings that have influenced settler and indigenous relationships for so long, but yet also willingly share in the smudge, a healing ritual suggested by Tasha’s son, representing the youngest generation.
Tasha’s own sons are featured in her film. Tasha wonders how negative stereotypes of indigenous young men will impact their futures.
The film We Stand Up played to packed houses during its recent run at Cinematheque in Winnipeg. In response, the theatre plans to bring the film back for a second run in August. I would highly recommend it.
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