Everyday Activist - Elder in the Making

Posted on Sunday, June 19, 2016 at 11:00 PM

Movie: Elder in the Making

Elder in the Making

Movie Review by Everyday Activist X CalgaryMovies.com

I have meant to write about this film many times and just never have. Part of the problem was it screened during peak documentary season and had a number of screenings so I always figured that I would have another opportunity to write about it to help promote the screening. This is what I tell myself anyway. After recently reviewing The Pass System, listening to Richard Van Camp speak and seeing there is free screening of Elder in th Making for National Aboriginal Day in Calgary, I figured it’s time. When I watched Elder in the Making at Mount Royal University, shortly after the Calgary International Film Festival, the venue was close to capacity with hundreds of people gathering together to watch this emotional journey through Treaty 7 territory.

Director Chris Hsiung and Cowboy Smithx, an unlikely pair, take us on a trip through Treaty 7 land. They talk about residential schools, lack of connection to the land, Native traditions that have survived, as well as a history of prejudice, racism and golf. I seriously didn’t know that Native people golfed on Sundays, when everyone else was in church. Humor is a gift that Cowboy spreads throughout the film, giving hope to a seemingly bleak situation.

His wisdom also permeates as he is on the path to becoming an Elder. During the making of the film, they lost six of their friends. It was so different hearing about the accident on the news, than hearing about it from people who knew the victims and dedicated their film to them. My favorite part, other than the scenery, was towards the end, when some deer came to a field and Cowboy points out six deer for our six departed dears.

One of the most striking things about the film is that big sky, prairie, southern Alberta has a chance to play itself. We see it in so many other films from Dances with Wolves and Legends of the Fall pretending to be someplace else. Growing up there, my personal memories mixed in with the narrative, such as class trips to Head Smashed in Buffalo Jump or family picnics to Writing on the Stone Provincial Park. I’ve spent my entire life on Treaty 7 land, accepting that injustice happens.

With films such as Elder in the Making as well as The Pass System, the next generation of school children will have access to a much different view of Canadian history. As an adult watching those films, I have a renewed interest in the history of the place of where I grew up. My wish is that with this knowledge young people will ask the difficult questions of why First Nations people still suffer and find ways to make life better for all of us.

Elder in the Making will screen on June 21, 2016 at 6:30 pm at the Globe Cinema for National Aboriginal Day. There will be a panel discussion on aboriginal culture and issues after the screening. 

Calgary Showtimes:  Elder in the Making >


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.