Everyday Activist - Colonization Road (2016)[CBC Docs]

Posted on Tuesday, June 01, 2021 at 06:00 PM

Colonization Road (2016)[CBC Docs]

Movie Review by Everyday Activist X CalgaryMovies.com

I watched Colonization Road as part of my class. Parts of the review are from my essay. Colonization roads appeared in Ontario and Manitoba connecting the settlers to natural resources such as timber and minerals and to farmland. With roads cutting through the wilderness, colonization happened considerably faster than in other parts of Canada. In the short documentary, Colonization Road, Ryan McMahon speaks with different experts both Indigenous and settlers about colonization and its impact on Indigenous communities throughout history. Roads facilitated the dispossession and erasure by using assimilation tactics such as residential schools, policies such as the Indian Act and informal agreements.

I enjoy McMahon’s commentary, having seen him in October of 2018 at Wordfest in Calgary as we celebrated the life of writer Richard Wagamese, who died in 2017. Indigenous people are known for their sense of humor, so it’s not surprising that McMahon weaves his comedic stand up into the film. McMahon discloses some of his own family history and experiences growing up on an Anishinaabe reserve. Through his personal stories about community division between settlers and Indigenous people, he relates to observations made by Harvard scholar and associate professor, Jeff Denis who “highlights how, despite often having close cross-group relationships, residents maintain conflicting perspectives on land, culture, history, and treaties, and Indigenous residents frequently experience interpersonal and systemic racism.”

The documentary took the time to profile Indigenous people in Shoal Lake sharing stories in a public forum to address the effects lack of clean water and the lack of a road has had on them as they continued to advocate for Freedom Road, completed in 2018. They are far from the only Indigenous group with water concerns. The Canadian Government has pledged money for clean drinking water, but many communities still do not have access to a basic human right that many Canadians take for granted. To fill the gaps in water sanitation left by inaction from the federal government, University of Calgary engineering student, Bita Malekian, has started up an educational initiative for water operators to share resources to help solve the water issues Indigenous groups face in Treaty 7 territory.

Colonization Road always returns to Indigenous relationships to the land. Born and raised in Treaty 7 territory, the mountains have regularly been a source of refuge for me. To deepen my connection I started taking Blackfoot languages and while not everyone is a super nerd, I encourage everyone to learn more about Indigenous culture via documentaries from CBC and the National Film Board. Check out the blog for some of my favorites that I have reviewed over the past six years!

Calgary Showtimes: Colonization Road (2016) >


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.