The award-winning film nîpawistamâsowin: We Will Stand Up tells the story of the death of Colten Boushie, a 22-year-old Cree man from Red Pheasant First Nation, and the trial of his alleged shooter. The documentary, which won Best Canadian Feature at the Hot Docs Festival and the Colin Low Award at the DOXA Documentary Film Festival, begins its countrywide tour in Saskatchewan theatres this week.
The documentary takes viewers through a story of murder, racism and Indigenous history in Canada. It all begins the day Boushie and his friends entered Gerald Stanley’s rural property. Boushie was shot in the back of the head in August 2016, allegedly by the property owner.
The jury’s acquittal of Stanley, who was accused of second-degree murder, captured the attention of the country. Filmmaker Tasha Hubbard’s involved storytelling weaves a “profound narrative encompassing the filmmaker’s own adoption, the stark history of colonialism on the Prairies and a vision of a future where Indigenous children can live safely on their homelands,” according to the documentary’s synopsis.
Eleanore Sunchild is the Boushie family’s lawyer. She thinks all Canadians should watch the film.
“Canadians should see this film. It speaks about issues that concern Canadian justice. The inclusion of Indigenous people within that system and all systems should be of a great concern to everybody,” she said.
Sunchild says those who don’t want to see it should, too, adding: “I want to encourage people who don’t want to see it, to see it. It will make people think deeply. It has created a lot of conversation amongst people, and that’s good.
“If we start talking about racism, discrimination, stereotypes and reconciliation, then that’s a start.”
The documentary’s theatre tour begins in Saskatoon, about 100 kilometres east of where the tragedy took place. Sunchild said the film’s week-long showing in that city is going to be of importance to those living in the Prairies.
“The story originated here, and there are deep-seated issues that need to be discussed in our province,” she said.
Sunchild adds that the film’s message plays a role in showing “Canadians, especially people in this province, that Indigenous lives matter, that Indigenous people are important, that they need to be treated with the respect and dignity that they deserve — respect in not only the justice system but in Canada as a country.”
After Saskatoon’s showings, the film heads to Regina before setting out for Edmonton, Vancouver, and a run of showings at TIFF Bell Lightbox’s summer programming.
Sunchild said it’s part of the Boushie family’s healing process to share their story of loss.
“There’s been a lot of tears shed over this movie. It’s very hard for the family,” she said. “There’s moments in the film where you will see a lot of emotion, and that’s just a little bit of what they went through in that process. It was very difficult for them.”
Along with seeing Canadians watch the film, the Boushie family’s fight for justice isn’t over, according to Sunchild.
“The family would like to see a commission or an inquiry done on this injustice so that all of Canada can see how this family and many other Indigenous families are treated in the justice system,” she said.
“By speaking out for Colten and others, it’s their hope that people won’t forget who Colten was but also, on that same note, to give other people the means or the voice to speak out for their own people, their families, their stories and to always be proud of who we are as Indigenous people.”