________________ CM . . . . Volume VI Number 2 . . . . September 17, 1999

cover Place of the Boss - Utshimassits.

John Walker (Director). Mike Mahoney, Peter d'Entremont and John Walker (Producers).
Montreal, PQ: National Film Board of Canada Atlantic Centre, Triad Film Productions Ltd., and John Walker Productions Ltd. (Distributed by the National Film Board of Canada), 1996.
48 min., 46 sec., VHS, $39.95.
Order Number: 9196 112.

Subject Headings:
Mushuau Inuu.
Native people-Labrador-Inuu-Human rights.
Naskapi Indians.
Labrador (Nfld.)-Davis Inlet.

Grades 10 and up / Ages 15 and up.
Review by Katie Cook.

** /4

In the mid-sixties, the Mushaua Innu, one of the last hunter-gatherer peoples of North America, were forced to abandon their 6,000-year nomadic culture and settle in the village of Davis Inlet on the coast of Northern Labrador - a place the Innu named Utshimassits - Place of the Boss. There, their traditional hunting and gathering life-style was replaced with the monetary economy of the rest of Canada. Unfortunately, there were no jobs to be had in Davis Inlet. With their culture unraveling and the voices of the spirit shaman shouted down by the local Catholic missionaries, the people of Davis Inlet turned to alcohol and lives full of abuse. A tragic house fire on Feb. 14, 1992, in which six young unattended children died, caused some of the people of Davis Inlet to reexamine their lives and stop the drinking. But, for the younger generation, nothing has changed. Their lives revolve around alcohol, drugs and sniffing gas. Suicide is a common occurrence.
      Using a combination of archival footage, narration, and the personal reminiscences and stories of the people at Davis Inlet, this video paints a bleak picture of a way of life that has been altered and a people who are culturally dispossessed and wandering lost. While useful for the high school social studies curriculum, the format of most of the interviews (Innu leaders with sub-titles) makes this film a daunting prospect for all but the most disciplined viewers. It is too easy to lose the substance of the narration because of the constant switch of people being interviewed and the constant switch from English to Innu. The subject matter is unrelievedly bleak, the loss of an entire culture and the failure of community. While a valid and valuable lesson can be learned from this video, most high school students would not have the patience to find it.

Recommended With Reservations.

Katie Cook is a social studies teacher and a teacher-librarian at the Steinbach Regional Secondary School in Steinbach, MB.

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

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ISSN 1201-9364