Hot Docs 2019 Review: nîpawistamâsowin: We Will Stand Up

nîpawistamâsowin: We Will Stand Up

7 out of 10

A multilayered look at Indigenous issues in Canada, one family’s painful fight for justice, and emboldened racism in the age of social media, Hot Docs’ 2019 opening film nîpawistamâsowin: We Will Stand Up looks at the bigger picture behind one of the most controversial murder trials in recent memory.

In the summer of 2016 and through a convoluted series of events, young Cree man Colten Boushie found himself on the southern Saskatchewan farmland of white property owner Gerald Stanley. As the frightened young man (who just woke up from a nap in the back of a friend’s car) was trying to run away from the scene, Stanley shot Boushie point blank in the back of the head. What looked like a case of second degree murder (or at the very least, manslaughter) and something that looked far more dominating than the defense’s claim of self-defense would suggest, turned into an injustice for the Boushie family. After watching their son’s killer getting released without any punishment, the family rallys together and meets with local, national, and international politicians to share Colten’s story and explain to the world why his death plays into a larger discussion about indigenous issues.

nîpawistamâsowin: We Will Stand Up, directed by Tasha Hubbard (Birth of a Family), allows the Boushie family a great deal of time and space to share, educate, and hopefully heal old wounds. Their story speaks all too depressingly well to issues historically faced by Canadian Indigenous peoples since Treaty 6 and the Indian Act, but also to a new form of rising, emboldened racism and protectionism. From the courtroom to the halls of parliament to intimate familial moments of remembrance, nîpawistamâsowin: We Will Stand Up offers an important counterpoint to mainstream sentiments about reconciliation. Hubbard’s film suggests that while politicians have been talking a good game about the subject, actual reconciliation with First Nations peoples might be as far away as it has ever been.

Hubbard (whose birth father is married to Colten’s aunt) stumbles slightly in an underdeveloped, but well meaning and heartfelt attempt to connect the Boushie case to her own desire to educate her children about their past, but whenever nîpawistamâsowin: We Will Stand Up allows its subjects a platform to speak, everyone should listen.

Thursday, April 25, 2019 – 9:45 pm – Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema

Saturday, April 27, 2019 – 1:00 pm – TIFF Bell Lightbox 2

Saturday, May 4, 2019 – 10:00 am – Isabel Bader Theatre

Andrew Parker
Andrew Parker fell in love with film growing up across the street from a movie theatre. He began writing professionally about film at the age of fourteen, and has been following his passions ever since. His writing has been showcased at various online outlets, as well as in The Globe and Mail, BeatRoute, and NOW Magazine. If he's not watching something or reading something, he's probably sleeping.

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