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In this month’s First Nations Film and Video Festival screening, we feature Innu Nikamu: Resist and Sing, a 2017 documentary about the Innu Nikamu Music and Aboriginal Arts Festival by Kevin Bacon Hervieux.
The film focuses on the evolution of the festival, which is intimately linked to the territorial roots of the Innu people and the life of the Maliotenam Reserve community. For centuries, the Innu had followed a seasonal migration cycle, wintering in the northern territories for the caribou hunt and returning every summer to the north shore of the St. Lawrence. Festivities, meetings, traditional games, and weddings marked the latter period. The Innu Nikamu Music and Aboriginal Arts Festival has become the modern-day reincarnation of this ancient summer celebration.
In more recent times, Maliotenam was host to a government-imposed residential school program that left an indelible scar on the community. (Such schools sought to assimilate Indigenous peoples by removing children from their families and communities and placing them in institutions where they were forbidden from speaking their languages and practicing their cultures.) When the school was finally closed, the buildings were demolished and buried in a field that was to become, a decade later in 1985, the site of the Innu Nikamu Festival.
Featuring music that has accompanied the Innu throughout their history, director Kevin Bacon Hervieux traces the fabulous stories of the founders, musicians, artisans, and collaborators who ignited the hope of a community in distress and dared to believe that the re-appropriation of their culture and their language was not an impossible challenge.
The film will be followed by a discussion with Northern Arapaho filmmaker Ernest Whiteman III, who is the Director of the First Nations Film and Video Festival.
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