I had forgotten how powerful a film it is. The themes of the absence and presence of the father features prominently. At the end of the film, in a moving scene of solidarity, Victor presents part of the remains of his father's ashes to Thomas. Victor's father acted as a kind of foster-father for Thomas. The relationship between Victor and his father was complicated to say the least. Victor experienced both the effects of alcoholism and abandonment from his father. In a poignant scene, Victor asks his father's girlfriend if his father ever talked about him.
When Thomas receives the ashes he says that he is going to go to the river and throw the ashes in and the spirit of his father will rise like a phoenix once again. Victor laughs and says he was going to to do the same thing but for a different reason. For Victor, the journey was going to be like cleaning the attic; getting rid of things that are no longer necessary.
The poem that Thomas recites at the end is a powerful poem of moving forward.
By analogy, there is something stirring in the native community with the Idle No More movement. Historical grievances felt by the grassroots are being expressed somewhat inchoately but with great energy. First Nation leaders are not necessarily always connected with the rhythms or moods of the movement. There is a realignment occurring and a certain dissatisfaction with the status quo. The movement itself arose from four First Nation women and has caught on through the grassroots and net-roots. Certainly Theresa Spence and the entire Attawapiskat situation has occupied a central place in the coverage but Attawapiskat is not the central focus. The focus, as far as I can discern, is on the basic relationship of Canada and the First Nation people. It is stirring up passions on all sides. Letters to the editor have expressed anger and frustration by many Eur0-Canadians replete with stereotypical prejudices and attitudes. Matthew Coon come was booed by a group of Cree women when he entered Parliament to meet with officials from the government. The point is that from all sides a coming together to talk, dialogue is being frustrated by grassroots anger. Both First Nation leaders and Canadian leaders alike seem unable to stem the tide of resentment and grievances emerging.
Many scholars have referred to this period of history as post-colonial. This means that emancipation and liberation movements all across the world from India, Australia, South Africa, and Canada have shifted dramatically. The legacy of mostly British inspired colonialism is being supplanted by new relationships; hence the terms post(after)-colonialism (the colonial historical project).
Yet, what will this new post-colonial relationship like? What kind of relationship will emerge? Idle No More correctly asserts that the government of Canada needs to negotiate with indigenous people on a nation to nation basis. However, there has been such a history of dependency particularly through the Indian Act which many activists have been trying to have repealed for at least 40 years that envisioning a new pre-Indian Act arrangement seems insurmountable.
And so in this journey of ridding ourselves of a paternalistic past, what path will the First Nation people follow? Shall we live forever in historical grievances and attempt to rewrite historical narratives (forgive our father's in their time) or shall we look at what exists now and let go of existing structures and begin anew (forgive our fathers in our time). And finally, as the poem concludes, "if we forgive our father's what is left?"
Like the grandmother in this clip, we ask the prophet, "tell me what happened, tell me what's going to happen?"