________________ CM . . . . Volume VII Number 6 . . . . November 17, 2000

cover Kwekanamad: The Wind is Changing.

Carlos Ferrand (Writer and Director). Stephanie Larrue (Producer, Les Productions Digame) & Yves Bisaillon (Producer, NFB).
Montreal, PQ: National Film Board of Canada, 2000.
54 min., 17 sec., VHS, $39.95.
Order Number: C9199 222.

Subject Headings:
National Aboriginal Arts and Performance Centre-Indian arts-Canada.
Native peoples-Canada-Ethnic identity.

Grades 10 and up / Ages 15 and up.

Review by Joanne Peters.

** /4

Few situations are more tragic for a family than the untimely death of a child. Years later, Annie Smith-St. Georges and her husband, Robert, continue to feel the impact of the suicide of their son, Yanik, in 1990. Subsequent to the tragedy, Annie sought to make sense of the situation and to find direction in life. The daughter of an Algonquin trapper, Annie found strength in the teachings and traditions of her culture, a strength which culminated in the dream-vision of a glass teepee which would house a National Aboriginal Arts and Performance Centre, to be built in Ottawa, and a place which would memorialize her son and other young Natives who struggled, sometimes unsuccessfully, with their identity and sense of purpose. Kwekanamad tells the story of Annie, her family, and their quest to fulfill this dream. In the video, we see that strong family ties manage to keep them together, that traditional teachings provide a measure of healing, and that many Natives, both young and old, struggle to assert their sense of pride in their culture and a sense of dignity about their heritage. Certainly, as the sub-title indicates, "the wind is changing." and there is greater acceptance and understanding of aboriginal culture, but, for Annie and her family, the dream of a building to honor Yanik remains unfulfilled. Kwekanamad is a powerful story. Annie and her husband speak frankly of the reality of a pain that never totally relents, and the viewer cannot help but admire their courage in seeking a positive outcome for this family tragedy. And the video's contents certainly provide insight into the value that traditional beliefs have for contemporary Aboriginals. Still, I think that the video has very limited curricular application; senior high classes in Native studies might find it offers valuable insights into the continuing strength of the culture, and it certainly begs the question of why suicide continues to be such a problem amongst young Natives, even in families which appear to be functional and loving. Preview before deciding whether the film can be used effectively in your collection.

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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ISSN 1201-9364