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Produced by Therese Descary; directed by Co Hoedeman
National Film Board of Canada, 1992. VHS cassette, 8 min., $21.95
Distributed by the National Film Board of Canada.

Grades 1 and up/Ages 5 and up

Reviewed by S.A. McLennan McCue.

Volume 21 Number 3
1993 May

The idea for L'ours renifleur/The Sniffing Bear came from a group of aboriginal inmates at La Macaza Institution. They wanted to raise awareness of the harmful effects of substance abuse in northern communities. If it is shown to as many of the communities for whom it was intended as possible, it will do just that.

This beautiful little film is made for all children, regardless of their mother tongue, because there are no spoken words. The animated figures were constructed from handmade paper coloured with vegetable dyes and placed against an all-white background. The texture of the paper gives life to both the characters and their environ­ment.

The story tells of a polar bear who becomes addicted to the strange smell in a discarded jerry can. His friends, Owl and Seal, see the harmful effects on Polar Bear, but they cannot dissuade him from sniffing the gas. Only after a crisis that almost costs him his life does Polar Bear give up his addiction.

The story would appeal to children of all ages living in northern environments. The younger ones would simply be entertained. The video could be presented to older students as part of a multimedia package. On a day when the horrors of Davis Inlet are still fresh in our minds, we might all thank those inmates, Co Hoedeman and the National Film Board for this superb effort.

S.A. McLennan McCue is a policy analyst with Aboriginal Corrections, Solicitor General of Canada, in Ottawa, Ontario.
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