________________ CM . . . . Volume XIV Number 16 . . . . April 4, 2008


A Hospital Crucified.

Renée Blanchar (Writer & Director). Didier Maigret (ÇÇ Tourne Productions Producer). Jacques Turgeon (NFB Producer).
Montreal, PQ: National Film Board of Canada, 2007.
61 min., 14 sec., VHS or DVD, $99.95.
Order Number: 153E 9907 305.

Grades 10 and up / Ages 15 and up.

Review by Catherine Howett.

*** /4


On March 2, 2004, Bernard Lord's Conservative government announces that the hospital in Caraquet, New Brunswick, will be converted to a community health centre. Considering the government's decision unfair, the people of the region rally to save the health care services to which they feel entitled. Despite their year-and-a-half-long struggle, the Hôpital de l'Enfant-Jésus is closed. (From DVD jacket.)


The controversial health care decision to close a rural community hospital on the Acadian Peninsula in New Brunswick echoes events across Canada in the early 2000's. Despite a federal mandate for patient-centred care, many smaller communities lost primary hospital services (24-hour emergency care, surgery, gynecology and obstetrics capacity) entirely or saw reductions to quality of care.

     Renée Blanchar, in this NFB/ÇÇ Tourne Productions film, clearly documents the protest that ensued when New Brunswick's government decided to close the local hospital the Caraquet community had built in the 1960's. The closure meant patients would have to travel half an hour to Tracadie, or an hour to Bathhurst for care. Additionally, the question of whether patients would be able to obtain services in French in these settings led to a legal challenge that the decision might violate the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

     Blanchar was on hand to document the public forums on health care, marches in the middle of winter, the court battle and the ultimate closure. She shows the engagement and mobilization of Caraquet and the surrounding communities with a particular focus on the social currency evident in this strongly Acadian community. Political and language issues are presented in an even-handed way.

     The currency of this video would make it an excellent addition to the Secondary Social Studies curriculum as it relates to Canadian social policies, politics and government. New Brunswick, as a bilingual province, has political dynamics that parallel the federal process. The size of the province, the presence of a large francophone community with a dedicated print and electronic media presence and a strong artistic and cultural history make this a multicultural microcosm. The video would be equally useful for English, French Immersion and Cadre programs.

     Blanchar's documentary won a 2007 Award for Best Acadian Medium or Feature Length Film at the International Francophone Film Festival in Acadie held in Moncton, NB.

     On a positive note, CBC News of December 17, 2007 suggests that the Liberal government appears to be on the brink of reversing the decision, and the Caraquet facility may regain its status as a hospital.

     In French with English subtitles.


Catherine Howett is a Research and Resource Centre Coordinator and advocate for school libraries. She lives in Vancouver, BC.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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