Is the Crown at war with us?

Is the Crown at war with us?

| 1 h 36 min

In this feature-length documentary by Alanis Obomsawin, it's the summer of 2000 and the country watches in disbelief as federal fisheries wage war on the Mi'kmaq fishermen of Burnt Church, New Brunswick. Why would officials of the Canadian government attack citizens for exercising rights that had been affirmed by the highest court in the land? Casting her cinematic and intellectual nets into history to provide context, Obomsawin delineates the complex roots of the conflict with passion and clarity, building a persuasive defence of the Mi'kmaq position.

This film contains scenes of violence. Viewer discretion is advised.

As the confrontation between Mi’gmaq fisherman in Burnt Church, New Brunswick and federal fishery officers comes to a head, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans’ boats violently ram and run over the much smaller boats of the Mi’gmaq fishers. Watching the footage, I’m reminded of the brutal scene during the Oka Crisis where the Kahnawake Mohawks are stoned as they cross the Mercier bridge [see Alanis Obomsawin’s Rocks at Whiskey Trench].

Gil Cardinal
From the playlist: The Aboriginal Voice: the National Film Board and Aboriginal Filmmaking through the Years

In the summer of 2000, federal fishery officers appeared to wage war on the Mi'gmaq fishermen of Burnt Church, NB. But why would the government attack citizens for exercising rights that had been affirmed by the highest court in the land?

Alanis Obomsawin
From the playlist: Tribute to Alanis Obomsawin

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  • original music composer
    Francis Grandmont
  • writer
    Alanis Obomsawin
  • director
    Alanis Obomsawin
  • editor
    Alison Burns
  • camera
    Philippe Amiguet
    Yoan Cart
    Michel La Veaux
  • location sound
    Raymond Marcoux
    Ismaël Cordeiro
  • musician
    Francis Grandmont
    Normand Guilbeault
    Eloi Painchaud
    Nadine Turbide
  • assistant camera
    Sébastien Cassou
    Geoffroy St-Hilaire
    Philippe Martel
  • sound editor
    André Chaput
  • photo animation
    Meilan Lam
  • production assistant
    Wayne Dedam
    Burdett Vicaire
    Wendell Metallic
  • sound technician
    Biagio Pagano
  • digital editing technician
    Danielle Raymond
  • voice recording
    Patrick Knup
  • voice recording director
    Claude Dionne
  • voice
    Arthur Holden
    Tony Robinow
  • narration
    Alanis Obomsawin
  • drawings
  • transcription
    Tyson Phillips
  • stills photographer
    Pamela Mitchell
    Jean Bartibogue
    Tina Young
  • research
    Alanis Obomsawin
  • animation camera
    Pierre Landry
  • post-production coordinator
    Claude Cardinal
    Linda Payette
  • underwater images
    Chris Harvey-Clark
  • amateur video camera
    Christian Peacemaker Teams
    Mark Simon
    Geronimo Somerville
    Aboriginal Rights Coalition
    Judy Loo
    Clinton Sorbey
  • music recording
    Geoffrey Mitchell
    Sylvain Cajelais
  • re-recording mixer
    Serge Boivin
    Jean Paul Vialard
  • sound post production technician
    Daniel Trépanier
    Patrick Viegas
  • titles
    Gaspard Gaudreau
    Louise Overy
  • on-line technician
    Denis Pilon
  • digital video to film transfer
    Gaspard Gaudreau
  • production administration assistant
    Christine Williams
  • translator
    Wendell Metallic
  • program administrator
    Marie Tonto-Donati
    Nickie Merulla
  • producer
    Alanis Obomsawin
  • executive producer
    Sally Bochner

Is the Crown at war with us?
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  • mrjoe

    Watching this and watching the news about what’s going on in Nova Scotia is like the government hasn’t changed one bit! It’s 2020 and First Nations are still fighting for what is truly our right to hunt and fish.

    mrjoe, 1 Mar 2021
  • CathieReid

    Can't begin to describe how disgusted I am (as an 8th generation urban white privileged Canadian) with the actions of our Canadian government, DFO and RCMP (as well as our education curriculum and media that have misled us regarding our economic relationship with the land and our relationship with First Nations. Every Canadian needs to see this and take it in...The economic self interest of the white fishermen and fishing industry and complicity of our government in disrespecting First Nations' Treaty Rights and communities is representative of the giant Easter Island ponzi scheme that Canada has become and that we must set on a more sustainable and non violating course.

    CathieReid, 29 Oct 2016
  • rachelenns

    I commend Alanis Obomsawin for making a powerful, educating documentary. This is a documentary that all Canadians need to watch, even though it is 12 years old. This exposes racism and struggles which the Mi’kmaq people still face today. We need to understand the past to change the future.

    rachelenns, 21 Feb 2014
  • KarinLisaAtkinson

    I really appreciate this film. I hope there is a follow-up film as time moves onward. It is a very important historical document, which can be seen by the whole world. I think the actions of the government speak for themselves, meaning when is it acceptable in any country to hurt your citizens instead of dialogue - and dishonour treaties that have sustainable practices being implemented by the first people's who have lived on the land for centuries.

    KarinLisaAtkinson, 15 Feb 2013
  • neural

    would love to see a story about these issues with both sides' stories.

    neural, 14 Sep 2011
  • marydeborah

    Yes, the Crown is at war with us. When did it truely end?

    marydeborah, 21 Oct 2010

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