. . . . Volume VIII Number 2 . . . . September 21, 2001
Ojigkwanong: Encounter with an Algonquin Sage.
Lucie Ouimet (Director). Andre Gladu (Producer).
Montreal, PQ: National Film Board of Canada, 2000.
26 min., VHS, $39.95
Order Number: C9100 054
Indians of North America-Ethnic identity.
Grades 11 and up / Ages 16 and up.
Review by Joanne Peters
Ojigkwanong: Encounter with an Algonquin Sage is the story of William Commanda, an Algonquin elder
born on Quebec's Maniwaki reserve. Many of the challengeshe faced are commonplace for Inuit and Aboriginal
people: displacement, denial of culture, terrible poverty (the story of his family's near-starvation
as a reservation and met with Prime Ministers and other top-level government leaders in the attempt to seek
just ice and fair settlement of land claims. His active role in seeking this redress came about
as a result of a vision he had in 1961, when, desperately ill, he dreamed of a "Circle of all Nations."
Miraculously, he recovered, and since that time, has pursued a message of peace and reconciliation,
not only between historic adversaries (the Algonquin and Iroquois), but also with those who oppressed
him and his people: the whites who he once hated and admitted that, if he could have, he would hae done them ill.
Commanda's story is told through a series of personal interviews with him, with others who have been
inspired by his ministry of healing within federal penitentiaries, and through a variety of news and archival
footage. Sometimes, the movement between past and present impedes the flow of his narrative. As well,
Commanda speaks French, and, as a result, much of the video is subtitled with English translations.
He is a charming and humble man - he describes himself as "un petit bonhomme," (a little guy),
undertaking a major and important task, and the respect he shows everyone, whether that person is
remarkable. And, one cannot one help but be moved by his message of forgiveness that will come with
embracing those attitudes.<
Impressed as I was by Commanda and his mission, I believe that the video would have rather limited
curricular application. Native Studies programs seem like the logical fit, and I think that older students
would be the best audience: so much of the video consists of interviews that younger viewers might lose
interest. View the video and then decide how you might use it in your school's collection.
Joanne Peters is a teacher-librarian at Kelvin High School in Winnipeg, MB.
on this title or this review, send mail to email@example.com.
© the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use
is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction
is prohibited without permission.
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