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Sunday, September 18, 2011

Canada: Apartheid Nation

Deutsche Version dieses Blogs hier.

Canada, 2011

Writer / Exec. Producer / Director:
Angela O'Leary

Laurie Stewart

Craig Lauzon


To be a citizen of a First World country does not always guarantee that you will be able to live a life and raise your children in a way that does not include severe worries how to make it through the next day, and how to satisfy even the most basic needs, in order to survive.

Although Canada is undoubtedly one of the richest countries in the world, not all of the citizens benefit from this - in fact, there is a sharp line that separates the rural First Nations population from the rest and that creates a society where, even though this is the 21st century now, living under the rule of Apartheid is still a fact.

Angela O'Leary, raised in a small Northern Ontario town, which sparked her love for the North and made her sensitive for nature, environmental issues, and of the First Nations population and their struggles, now took the effort to help shed a light on conditions in her country that are simply unacceptable.

In a heartfelt and powerful attempt to trigger national and hopefully also world wide awareness for a dire situation that cries for change and improvement, O'Leary makes her debut as a director with the documentary "Canada: Apartheid Nation". Teaming up with producer Laurie Stewart and Canadian writer/actor Craig Lauzon as the film's narrator, O'Leary brings her audience in close touch with the truth about the Canada's remote Northern First Nations' every day lives.


The First Nations community Attawapiskat (James Bay, Northern Ontario) stands as an example for the life conditions that so many Northern First Nations communities have to endure, due to either deliberate neglect by the authorities who's responsibility it is to help, or by them simply turning the blind eye, trusting on no one taking notice anyhow.

The inhabitants of the Cree community Attawapiskat are forced to live under miserable conditions with close to none job opportunities, sub-standard housing, lack of clean water and outrageous educational situation - allow me say a few words on this last point:

The kids of the community are forced for over a decade now to attend school in portables, that were built as an inadequate (and low cost) replacement for the community's original school house. By an accident in 1979, a massive diesel spill contaminated the soil underneath that building. The soil then had not been excavated and replaced, but only covered up with an extra layer of soil. In spite of the massive health dangers for students and teachers from the sickening fumes constantly escaping from the ground, the school building still had to be used until 2000. Only then, the government finally came up with what can only be described as a half-hearted and makeshift solution, that is a massive pull-down for the education of the kids of Attawapiskat:

The old school house was torn down, and cheap-to-build portables (that can hardly be heated during long winter months) served as a replacement that is slap in the face rather than anything else.

Receiving no official support, and having no lobby anywhere, it came so far as kids from Attawapiskat, and also a boy from over 1,200 km away Niagara Falls (see link), taking action themselves and starting campaigning for improvements of this situation to happen, tirelessly bringing this misery to the attention of politicians and the public.

Attawapiskat, fall 2011
Announcement board for the
construction of the
new elementary school
In the most recent present, a new pledge has been made by the Canadian government, to now finally start a project to provide a new school building for the community of Attawapiskat.

An announcement board has been erected at the future site of the building (see picture). The new elementary school is scheduled to be in service as of fall 2013.

Time will tell if a waiting period of, by then, 13 long years will bring the change that is so much needed in Attawapiskat.


Alongside with shedding a light on this really embarrassing stunt of the Canadian authorities (that could have never been pulled off with a not First Nations community!), the documentary Canada: Apartheid Nation throws a relentless look on various other facts about First Nations people in Northern Canada being treated as second class citizens ...

It offers facts instead of sugar coating, and people speaking up and bearing witness, instead of a silence of shame.

It is important to mention, though, that director Angela O'Leary's intention is not a simple denouncing of an outrageous and heartbreaking situation. She hopes that her film will help to trigger and maintain a constructive dialog between all parties involved, so that finally palpable and long overdue improvements will be made.

I think this is a very important documentary, and I hope it will find a world wide audience.



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