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Home / Place of the Boss: Utshimassits

Place of the Boss: Utshimassits ONF/NFB


Catalogue Number:  NFB527534
Producer:  National Film Board of Canada
Producers:  John Walker, Mike Mahoney, Peter d'Entremont, Marilyn A. Belec
Directors:  John Walker
Producing Agencies:  John Walker Productions Ltd. (Toronto),National Film Board of Canada (Montreal),Triad Film Productions Limited (Halifax)
Subject:  Abuse, Canadian Social Issues, Documentary, Early Childhood Education, Indigenous Peoples, Social Studies
Language:  English
Country Of Origin:  Canada
Copyright Year:  1996
Running Time:  48m 46s
Closed Captions:  Yes


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In the mid-1960s, the Mushuau Innu, one of the last hunter-gatherer peoples of North America, were forced to abandon their 6,000-year nomadic life style and settle in the village of Davis Inlet on the coast of Northern Labrador--a place the Innu named Utshimassits (ooh-she-mah-seet), or the Place of the Boss. Their relocation resulted in physical dislocation and cultural collapse. In February, 1992, six children died in a house fire in the settlement. The national media seized upon the story as a stark example of the pain and despair associated with the loss of traditional culture. For the people themselves, the tragedy was the starting point in a process of reflection and change. This behind-the-headlines look at the recovery weaves a profound sense of place through the use of archival footage of the breathtaking Labrador landscape juxtaposed against haunting present-day images of the dilapidated conditiong of Davis Inlet. First-person testimony from elders, band leaders and youth allows the voices of the community to express their own rarely heard point of view. The result is a documentary that delves beyond the national headlines of substance abuse, suicide and rural slum conditions to provide a profile of a people confronting the tragedy of their current circumstance by summoning the traditions, memories and culture of their proud past.

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