…in film class, I experienced a pause in my relationship with my country, with my politics, and with myself. Last night we watched the documentary Kanehsatake by Alanis Obomsawin. This film focuses on the crisis of Oka from the viewpoint of the people of Kanehsatake. The documentary covers the three months of the standoff through interviews with the Mohawk nation and warriors, with town’s people, with supporters, with the army, the police, even journalists, and pieces them together for a riveting 2 hours.
I remember the crisis of Oka; it doesn’t seem like that long ago, but I was preoccupied at the time–July-Sept. 1990– with the pregnancy of my first child, MacKenzie, who was born in the fall of that year. I remember wondering at the accuracy of the media reports, wondering about the situation in general, but somehow the distance of the events happening in the east made it appear far away. I was thinking about these things, with mixed feelings, mostly wondering why I didn’t remember the details better, and I began to think how long ago it all seems to be. Then, I began to think how vast this country seems, how much space we put between us as people, when all of a sudden, on the screen, there was a brief flash of a familiar person, a quick two second image, and I saw the face of someone I knew being led away by the police near Oka. (Near the standoff, a gathering of support for the Mohawk people was being broken up by the police, and in this crowd was the face of someone from Regina who had rallied in support of the Mohawk people).
The rockstar, sitting beside me, knows this person as well, and we shared the small gasp of her name, an awe at her face, each of us turning to look at each other in amazement, our quick, locked gaze bringing home the pause of reality– the very way we know we’re a part of this country is by knowing that our country is really so very small. Like events from the past, the face of one person merges with the present to bring me back to a reality I should know.