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Film Reviews Colten Boushie documentary nipawistamasowin: We Will Stand Up is searing, essential cinema on modern Canada

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

rating

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.

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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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