Film: Reconnecting with Native American roots


Tony Chachai was born to an addict mother, and abandoned his roots in the Atikamekw Nation, a Canadian Native American tribe whose homeland is along the Saint-Maurice River valley of Quebec, only to return as a young man in his search for answers and reconciliation.

Filmmaker Thérèse Ottawa, herself an Atikamekw, filmed a short documentary about his reunion with his heritage as he fulfills his mother’s last wish and takes up traditional dance with the help of cousin.

The American Indian Film Institute describes the origins of the film:

In 2012, the National Film Board of Canada (NFB) in partnership with the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (APTN) launched Tremplin NIKANIK, a competition for francophone First Nations filmmakers in Quebec hoping to make a first or second documentary with a runtime of 30 minutes or less. Thérèse Ottawa was one of the competition’s finalists, completing her first film, Red Path.

In following the story of Tony Chachai, a young Aboriginal man in search of his identity, Ottawa raises issues relating to her culture, the past, and the transmission of knowledge and traditions among members of the Atikamekw Nation.

Moved by the desire to reconnect with his roots, Tony Chachai delivers touching testimony on the journey that brought him closer to his family and community. On the verge of becoming a father himself, he becomes increasingly aware of the richness of his heritage and celebrates it by dancing in a powwow alongside his cousin Ronny Chachai.

And here, via the National Film Board of Canada, is the documentary:

The Red Path

Program notes:

In following the story of Tony Chachai, a young Aboriginal man in search of his identity. Moved by the desire to reconnect with his roots, Tony Chachai delivers touching testimony on the journey that brought him closer to his family and community.

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