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Debbie Baptiste, left, and Jade Tootoosis at the United Nations building in New York in a still from the documentary nipawistamasowin: We Will Stand Up.Melissa Kent/The Canadian Press

  • nipawistamasowin: We Will Stand Up
  • Directed by: Tasha Hubbard
  • Classification: PG; 98 minutes


3.5 out of 4 stars

Painful, necessary and laced with time-capsule-ready images of what it means to live in Canada today, Tasha Hubbard’s nipawistamasowin: We Will Stand Up will sear itself into your consciousness. What starts off as a detailed look into the 2016 Saskatchewan farmland killing of Colten Boushie, and the outcry that resulted after Gerald Stanley was acquitted of second-degree murder in the 22-year-old Cree man’s death, turns into an intimate portrait of generations-long grief.

Films opening this weekend: The soaring Rocketman and searing Colten Boushie doc nipawistamasowin: We Will Stand Up

Hubbard, whose film won the Best Canadian Feature Documentary Award at the Hot Docs film festival earlier this month, approaches the material with a justifiably mad-as-hell tone, but almost never lets her own voice supersede those of Boushie’s family members. Their quest for justice is compelling and devastating in equal measure and results in a visit to Parliament Hill that plays differently depending on what you think of Justin Trudeau’s government right this very minute.

The film’s strengths are only slightly subverted when Hubbard attempts to tie the Boushie family’s tragedy to her own personal story, but as a work depicting both a specific moment in time and a wide-ranging history of trauma suffered by Canada’s Indigenous people, We Will Stand Up is necessary, essential, riveting viewing.

nipawistamasowin: We Will Stand Up opens May 31 in Toronto, Regina, Edmonton and Vancouver; June 5 in Winnipeg; June 6 in Sudbury.

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