________________ CM . . . . Volume VII Number 5 . . . . November 3, 2000

cover The Strange Case of Bunny Weequod.

Steve Van Denzen (Director). John Roy (Producer, Cool Native Productions) and Gerry Flahive (Producer, NFB.).
Montreal, PQ: National Film Board of Canada, 1999.
24 minutes, VHS, $39.95.
Order Number: C9199 227.

Subject Headings:
Ojibway Indians-Drama.
Ojibway mythology-Drama.
Ojibway Indians-Folklore.

Grades 10 and up / Ages 15 and up.

Review by Joanne Peters.

**.5 /4

As the title would suggest, the story begins with a mystery: why are all the fish dying in the lake? Bunny Weequod, Ojibway fisherman, wants to know, and so like many sleuths, undertakes his mission under cover of darkness. His boat capsizes, and he is presumed dead, but the next day, Bunny reappears, albeit in slightly altered form. Now sporting a beard, Bunny is acting strangely: he draws cryptic pictures on the wall of his bathroom, picks a fight with his friend Fred (who, in cleaning the engine for his boat, discharges some oil into the lake, enraging Bunny), and steals a can of tobacco from Esther, a local elder. Understandably, Bunny's wife is distressed by all of these behaviors and seeks Esther's help and advice. Bunny's underwater transformation has been the work of the little people of Ojibway tradition, and, in order to propitiate them, he must pay them the respect they are due. The tobacco which he stole from Esther is one of the four sacred traditional plants and must be offered up. Only then will harmony be restored. And so, can of tobacco in hand, Bunny wades into the lake, returning later as his old self, yet changed.
    Written by Drew Hayden Taylor, The Strange Case of Bunny Weequod is narrated entirely in Ojibway, although it is sub-titled in English. Well-acted, it is nevertheless slow-paced - I am not sure that there is enough action in it to hold the attention of viewers not acquainted with the nature of traditional Native lore. However, one of the intentions in its creation was to provide a contemporary medium for the telling of traditional stories in the Ojibway language. In this, it succeeds and would, therefore, be a useful resource for native language classes.

Recommended with reservations.

Joanne Peters is a teacher-librarian at Kelvin High School in Winnipeg, MB.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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