TIFF review: Jordan River Anderson, The Messenger

Alanis Obomsawin's 53rd film is a clear-eyed documentary about a law that states Canada must provide necessary services to Indigenous children who need it


JORDAN RIVER ANDERSON, THE MESSENGER MAST D: Alanis Obomsawin. Canada. 65 min. Sep 10, 6 pm, AGO Sep 12, noon, AGO Sep 14, 6:15 pm, TIFF 4. Rating: NNNN


Obomsawin’s 53rd film continues her quest to tell urgent Indigenous stories, and this documentary is a clear-eyed telling of the origins and instating of Jordan’s Principle, a law that states Canada must provide the necessary services, products and support (such as medical equipment, speech therapy and mental health services) to all Indigenous children who need it.  

Jordan River Anderson, The Messenger delves into the people left behind when the federal and provincial government disagree over who pays the bill for health care.

Despite the documentary’s namesake being a deceased five-year-old boy from Norway House Cree First Nation, the film doesn’t veer into over-sentimentality or linger on mourning or frustrated parents. Instead, it’s driven by advocates like Cindy Blackstock, executive director of First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada.

In 65 minutes, numerous issues involved in Indigenous community and government relations are deftly explained to give space to this important fight for basic human rights for Indigenous children.

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