Everyday Activist - First Contact (APTN Series)

Posted on Saturday, November 17, 2018 at 06:00 PM

First Contact (APTN Series)

Movie Review by Everyday Activist X CalgaryMovies.com

Reality television Canadian style, First Contact has six Canadians from coast to coast visiting native reserves to learn about modern indigenous cultures. Given all the films related to indigenous injustice I’ve reviewed over the past few years including Angry Inuk, The Pass System, Elder in the Making, We Can’t Make the Same Mistake Twice, Bee Nation, Shift, Guardians of Eternity among others, I’m pretty well informed about the broader issues. What I learned from the series was about all the local initiatives towards health and healing for people still suffering the effects of residential school systems whether directly or indirectly as cultural ties to the land and each other were broken.

At Wordfest during Richard Wigamese’s tribute, people often commented that if Richard could build such wonderful career, why couldn’t other natives follow suit. I felt that the non-natives on the show had the same bias and preconceived notions about generational trauma and the resulting devastation adding to systemic racism. To build resilience skills people need to have support and resources. Some of the reservations people visited didn’t even have clean drinking water coming out of the tap or the ability to pay permanent medical care. Others were so remote that if people didn’t hunt they wouldn’t be able to survive as groceries from the south were too expensive to be sustainable.

The series allows conversations to open up about the past and how small steps towards wanting to connect with the intention to facilitate resilience makes a difference. One of the women decided that she wanted to personally do more now that she understood the issues natives faced. Considering her own struggles, she would be uniquely positioned to not only offer healing to others, but to also heal her own trauma in the process. Two of the older men from Alberta couldn’t be persuaded to become vulnerable enough to emphasize with the suffering they witnessed. The show didn’t do a follow up, so we don’t find out if some things had changed for them after they went home.

On the web only three episodes are listed, but on television the fourth episode had the native program leaders talking about their experience with the six people. The discussion was insightful, but had the sense of frustration that life would be easier for them if people took the time to understand the issues rather than make blanket assumptions and have unrealistic expectations. While it didn’t have the impact that Highway of Tears had, I was so upset I couldn’t bring myself to write about it, First Contact is a gentle reminder of what Truth and Reconciliation is about and how small steps can lead to big impacts for both cultures.  

Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (APTN) First Contact >


NOTE: The showtimes listed on CalgaryMovies.com come directly from the theatres' announced schedules, which are distributed to us on a weekly basis. All showtimes are subject to change without notice or recourse to CalgaryMovies.com.