Thursday, Nov. 12, an important new film is being screened at the North Battleford Public Library at 6:30 p.m. presented in association with the Treaty 6 Education Council.
The film is a 51-minute investigative documentary about the pass system.
Director Alex Williams says for over 60 years, the Canadian government denied many indigenous peoples of the prairies the basic freedom to leave their reserves, requiring a pass in order to do so for any reason.
Williams' film points out that the policy was never legal and was known by officials enforcing it to have no basis in law. The film reveals new information regarding the program enforced by the federal government, heretofore unknown, and from local sources including original material from the Battleford Indian Agency office and the Cut Knife archives.
Williams says, integral to the film, are documents saved by Battleford historian Don Light and his brother, the late Doug Light of Glenbow Museum. They rescued many of the documents the federal government based their judgment of the system on. Those files are at the Glenbow Archives now, and combined with new documents, they add to the knowledge of the system's reach and impact, although there are still many unanswered questions, as the film suggests.
The film features Cree, Soto, Dene, Ojibwe and Blackfoot Elders from Treaty 4, 6 and 7, and Battlefords area locales and people such as Philip Favel (Second World War veteran from Sweetgrass), Jacob Pete (first treaty Indian full member of the RCMP), Fort Battleford re-enactments and footage of Battleford. Senior historians from Saskatchewan and Alberta provide context and artists Alex Janvier and Lori Blondeau relate personal and family stories of living under the wide-sweeping powers enforced by the Indian Agent. Acclaimed actor Tantoo Cardinal narrates, with music by Cree/Mennonite composer Cris Derksen.
Williams is on fellowship with the University of Saskatchewan with the goal of bringing this film back to communities whose stories it originates from. The film was produced in association with Tamarack Productions - http://www.tamarackproductions.com/the-pass-system, with support from arts councils.
See the trailer at https://vimeo.com/125253802.