________________CM . . . . Volume VIII Number 2 . . . . September 21, 2001

image Ojigkwanong: Encounter with an Algonquin Sage.

Lucie Ouimet (Director). Andre Gladu (Producer).
Montreal, PQ: National Film Board of Canada, 2000.
26 min., VHS, $39.95
Order Number: C9100 054  

Subject Headings:
Commanda, William.
Indians of North America-Ethnic identity.

Grades 11 and up / Ages 16 and up.

Review by Joanne Peters

** /4

Ojigkwanong: Encounter with an Algonquin Sage is the story of William Commanda, an Algonquin elder born on Quebec's Maniwaki reserve. Many of the challengeshe faced are commonplace for Inuit and Aboriginal people: displacement, denial of culture, terrible poverty (the story of his family's near-starvation as a reservation and met with Prime Ministers and other top-level government leaders in the attempt to seek just ice and fair settlement of land claims. His active role in seeking this redress came about as a result of a vision he had in 1961, when, desperately ill, he dreamed of a "Circle of all Nations." Miraculously, he recovered, and since that time, has pursued a message of peace and reconciliation, not only between historic adversaries (the Algonquin and Iroquois), but also with those who oppressed him and his people: the whites who he once hated and admitted that, if he could have, he would hae done them ill.
    Commanda's story is told through a series of personal interviews with him, with others who have been inspired by his ministry of healing within federal penitentiaries, and through a variety of news and archival footage. Sometimes, the movement between past and present impedes the flow of his narrative. As well, Commanda speaks French, and, as a result, much of the video is subtitled with English translations. He is a charming and humble man - he describes himself as "un petit bonhomme," (a little guy), undertaking a major and important task, and the respect he shows everyone, whether that person is remarkable. And, one cannot one help but be moved by his message of forgiveness that will come with embracing those attitudes.<
     Impressed as I was by Commanda and his mission, I believe that the video would have rather limited curricular application. Native Studies programs seem like the logical fit, and I think that older students would be the best audience: so much of the video consists of interviews that younger viewers might lose interest. View the video and then decide how you might use it in your school's collection.


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