The School of Social Work hosted the first official event with new faculty member Dr. Cindy Blackstock on Thursday, January 19, 2017. McGill University screened the NFB and one of Canada's most distinguished filmmaker’s film: Abenaki filmmaker Alanis Obomsawin’s most recent film We Can’t Make the Same Mistake Twice.
The film documents the nine-year legal saga pitting the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada and the Assembly of First Nations against the Canadian government. Arguing that Indigenous children on reserves and in Yukon received subpar services due to the government’s discriminatory practices, the plaintiffs eventually won the trial in 2016.
The screening was followed by a lively panel discussion on how the information from the film can be incorporated into students’ areas of study and on how we can raise an awareness of the issue, and promote action, amongst the Canadian public. Professor Allan Downey, Dakelh, Nak’azdli Whut’en, Assistant Professor in the Department of History and Classical Studies, moderated the panel. Panelists included: Amal Elsana Alhjooj, PhD Candidate, School of Social Work & Executive Director, International Community Action Network; Carlee Loft, Kanien'kehá:ka, 3rd Year, Psychology major with a double minor in Indigenous Studies and Behavioural Science; Anna McIntosh, Year 3, B.C.L./LL.B. program, Faculty of Law; and Christian Quequish, Saulteaux, Year 3, Major Political Science, Minor Indigenous Studies.
Before the screening, student volunteers assisted attendees in participating in the Have a Heart Day campaign by writing messages of support that will be delivered to Parliament on February 14. Have a Heart Day is a child and youth-led reconciliation campaign that brings together caring Canadians to help ensure First Nations children have the services they need to grow up safely at home, get a good education, be healthy, and be proud of who they are.
The event also raised over $337 for Dans la rue. Each year, Dans la rue helps over 1,000 homeless and at-risk youth between the ages of 12 and 25 to secure housing, return to school, find their first job, reconnect with their families, and receive the physical and mental health care that they need in order to build a better future.
McGill would like to thank all of the student volunteers who helped make the event a success, as well as the organizing partners: The National Film Board of Canada, McGill University’s Indigenous Studies Program, the Department of Political Science, the Faculty of Law, the School of Social Work, Indigenous Access McGill, and the Indigenous Law Student Association.
Further information about the case can be found at www.fnwitness.ca
Trailer and more information on the film: https://www.nfb.ca/mistake_twice