In this movie's script, the Montreal writer's wish to connect with his city's history takes us on a first trip back in time to the 1200s; then the 1500s; the 1800s.
With each return to the present, we rejoin the Mohawk archaeologist and follow along in his quest to find physical evidence for the exact location, on the Island of Montreal, for the village called "Hochelaga".
In recorded history, we can read the words of Jacques Cartier, who describes his arrival in the village and his meeting with the Elders.
Each voyage back in time means entering drastically different moments in the history of the City of Montreal:
in the 12002, Iroquoian is spoken;
in the 1500s, French, Latin & Mohawk are spoken;
in the 1800s, French, English & Mohawk are spoken;
in present day, Mohawk, French & English are spoken.
Of course, sub-titles help us along in the separating out, and weaving back together of events over an eight-century span of time, and the Mohawk archaeologist's need to reach back and make real his ancestors.
The year 2017 marked the 150th anniversary of the creation of (on July 1st 1867) of "The Dominion of Canada".
Among others, one aboriginal filmmaker, Alethea Arnaquq-Baril (Angry Inuk / 2016), who is Inuit from Nunavut in northern Canada, called for Canadians to see why she would add two zeros to 150 years. In the months leading up to the July 1st celebration, the Inuit, Innu, First Nations and Métis peoples expressed how overlooked they felt, saying that the July 1st date, significant to European settlers, ignores the virtual wiping out of a multitude of peoples living here for centuries before the arrival of Jacques Cartier.
Today, I entered the packed 350-seat theater, where most in attendance were over the age of 35. I could have heard a pin drop during the movie. As it concluded, a single person way down in front began to clap. A moment later others joined in. About 70% of those in attendance began to clap as well. I sat, quiet, just taking it all in. "It" being a collective experience, a collective moment, a collective happening.
As I slowly walked back to my car, I thought: _ for all the talk we heard, back in July 2017, from those who say that Canada was born in 1867, what I experienced in a movie theater today tells me, that collectively, we all know otherwise.
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