Is the Crown at War with Us
Format: Digital Betacam (NTSC) Colour
Runtime: 96 min
Michel La Veaux
National Film Board of Canada
Alanis Obomsawin’s documentary Is the Crown at War with Us? focuses on the New Brunswick community of Esgenoôpitj – or Burnt Church, as many Canadians have come to know it – and the struggle over Mi’gmaq fishing rights. In the summer of 2000, this normally quiet community on Miramichi Bay made national news when an armada of boats aggressively attacked a group of Mi’gmaq fishermen as they were bringing in their lobster pots. This incident heightened tensions between the local aboriginal and commercial fishermen and led to a highly-charged showdown between the Mi’gmaq and the Federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans – whose officers helmed the attacking boats.
Obomsawin provides historical and social context for the extraordinary events on Miramichi Bay and introduces us to the key local and national players. Delineating the complex roots of the present conflict, she builds a persuasive defence of the Mi’gmaq position and offers a gripping portrait of a community under siege. Is the Crown at War with Us? provides a powerful document of this conflict and offers invaluable insight into the complex relationship between the state and First Nations. It had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival®, was well received by critics and earned a Genie Award nomination for Best Documentary.