Northern Greetings

Benoit Pilon

BY Robert BellPublished Feb 6, 2009

Examining the impact of technology and progression on traditional ways of life, be it through the colonial fear of simplicity and isolation or the impact a modern world has on Cree customs, Northern Greetings presents a balanced but sharp perspective on a town named Radisson and its neighbouring village of Chisasibi. Radisson was manufactured in Northern Quebec in the '70s by Quebec Hydro to host the thousands of workers who came to James Bay to build a massive hydroelectric station and remains a place of residence for the select few that have settled in. The documentary features interviews with long-time residents, as well as newcomers, examining the comfort of the quiet freedom, the lure of the south and the nature of isolation. It all boils down to ideology and pragmatism, as some find an idealistic comfort in the opportunity and possibility of urban centres while others, through learned disappointment, would prefer to have some peace in life, with just a few simple pleasures in an environment where they can be left alone. The other part of this documentary covers the impact that modern life has had on the native Cree, as they move into traditional houses, become educated and often move away, finding the lure of the south too strong, which is essentially antiquating their original way of life. No fingers are pointed, or political agenda forced, despite the overt nature of a dying heritage, as the doc is more interested in presenting a changing landscape and the many ways that people cope with change. Great editing and pacing, along with many interesting interview subjects, keep Northern Greetings consistently engaging. The DVD includes many deleted scenes, which are mostly available only in French and were visibly cut for the purpose of entertainment, as they tend to be drier than everything else.

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