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Facing Down The Past: Our Review Of ‘Indian Horse’ – In The Seats

by ahnationtalk on April 13, 2018201 Views

April 13, 2018

We’ve all heard the phrase, “You can’t know where you’re going until you know where you’ve been.” For many generations of First Nation people, knowing where they’ve been wasn’t an option. In the 19th century, the Canadian government created a policy called “aggressive assimilation.” The program was meant to “educate” and “care for” aboriginal people living in Canada. In other words: Whiten them up. Director Stephen S. Campanelli’s biopic, Indian Horse, recounts the life of a man who endured that broken system. Campanelli’s film adapts one person’s story to humanize an atrocity of incomprehensible scope.

Residential schools were government-sponsored religious schools meant to assimilate indigenous children into Canadian culture. Beginning in the 1800’s and operating until 1996, 150,000 First Nation, Inuit, and Métis children were removed from their communities and forced to attend residential schools. But here’s the kicker: These kids became Catholic, forgot their native language, and shed their culture, but remained outsiders. Pushed to the fringes of society and with little understanding of their historical traditions, these men and women became drifters in a cultural no man’s land.

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