Thursday, September 15, 2016

TIFF 2016: We Can't Make The Same Mistake Twice

We Can't Make The Same Mistake Twice is a documentary by Alanis Obomsawin, who has been making documentaries about the human rights struggles of Canad'a First Nations for many years. It's a shocking film that shows that the misery that First Nations children endured under the notorious residential schools program has continued in very substantial ways under government policies controlling how First Nations children living on reserves are treated when they need special health care. The policies of the federal government effectively discriminated against those children, denying them adequate care, and in far too many cases removing them unnecessarily from their homes. This created another generation of displaced children deprived of the love and care of their parents, as well as the culture of their people.

The film focuses on a case brought before the Human Rights Commission, and follows years of legal wrangling that shows our federal government put bickering over the most arcane semantics ahead of the well-being of sick children. Even when the government adopted Jordan's Principle, a policy that is supposed to mean that governments will first take care of a child in need, and settle any inter-governmental disputes over funding afterwards, they found ways to completely avoid acting on it in the way intended.

Much of the film covers dry legal arguments, which helped to keep the tears at bay, but there are scenes that show us how our government has betrayed these people that made me emotional and angry. I am also angry that, like the residential schools program, this injustice could go on for so long with so little awareness by those not directly affected by it. This film should be required viewing for all MPs; I will be telling mine to see it.

TIFF 2016 Overview

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