Club Native Tracey Deer

Club Native Tracey Deer
Being a native woman is considerably more complicated than I ever realised. In addition to the politics of being native that most non-native Canadians are at least marginally familiar with, there are also the internal politics within reservations, clans and families. This often-heartbreaking documentary interviews a group of women from the Kahnawake Reserve in Quebec as they navigate the tricky territory of what it means to be a Mohawk woman.

Falling in love is difficult enough under any circumstances, but when falling for a non-native can result in the loss of your status and rights, it’s much more complex. In many cultures, there are significant repercussions to marrying outside of one’s community, and the Mohawk people are no exception. The film focuses on the stories of two young women who have chosen non-native life partners and two others who are children from mixed marriages, struggling to gain acceptance and legal status in their community.

Interspersed with these four stories are interviews with other residents of the reserve, both male and female, on issues of identity, marriage and politics. The viewpoints expressed are varied and indeed, both sides of this issue are relatively easy to understand, until you’re confronted with the face of a young woman in tears because marrying the man she loves would mean losing not only her native status but her right to live in the community where she was born and raised. It’s hard stuff to deal with and filmmaker Tracey Deer does it with sensitivity and thoughtfulness.

The film doesn’t shy away from discussing larger issues, from the 1985 Indian Act to the 1990 Oka Crisis, which took place on the borders of the Kahnawake Reserve, but ultimately it’s a compassionate and compelling exploration of what it means to be native, to be Canadian, to be a woman and to be in love. (Independent)