'ROSIE' Is a Starting Point to Understanding the Reverberations of the Sixties Scoop

Directed by Gail Maurice

Starring Mélanie Bray, Keris Hope Hill, Constant Bernard, Alex Trahan

Photo courtesy of Photon Films

BY Eva ZhuPublished Nov 11, 2022

ROSIE, the debut film by Métis writer-director-actor Gail Maurice, tells the story of an Indigenous girl who is placed in the care of her aunt after the death of her mother. While not particularly hard-hitting, ROSIE is a great way to introduce viewers to Indigenous issues and history in Canada, specifically the Sixties Scoop. 

Frédérique, a.k.a. Fred, (Mélanie Bray), is a struggling artist in 1980s Montreal who can barely feed herself and can't keep a job. She's three months behind on rent and climbs down the fire escape each morning to escape the wrath of her landlord. The only people she can count on are her best friends, Flo (Constant Bernard) and Mo (Alex Trahan), who are two-spirit sex workers. 

After Fred's sister unexpectedly passes away, her six-year-old niece Rosie (Keris Hope Hill) becomes an orphan. Fred has a choice: she can either take Rosie in and attempt to be her guardian, or she can leave Rosie in Canada's child welfare system, which has a history of ripping Indigenous families apart. Fred, a victim of the government sponsored Sixties Scoop, takes Rosie in, not wanting her niece to go through the same thing she did.

Despite deciding to become Rosie's guardian, Fred resents having to care for the young girl and often leaves her with other people, like Mo, Flo, or even the local busker. She continues to avoid paying her rent and ends up locked out with her belongings tossed out the window. Occurring in tandem, Mo and Flo have their own problems: Mo's stage fright keeps them from performing in a drag show, and Flo is forced to face their transphobic father.

Fred eventually attempts to place Rosie back into foster care, realizing there's no way she can take care of a child if she can't even take care of herself. But when government social workers come to get Rosie, Fred changes her mind. She receives an ultimatum: if she can get her life together in one week, Rosie can return to her, otherwise Rosie will remain a ward of the government. 

While ROSIE tries to tackle the experiences and challenges of Indigenous people in Canada, its campy and feel-good storyline makes the message feel glossed over. The heart-wrenching scenes involving child services aren't fleshed out, dampening the film's impact significantly. Viewers know exactly who the characters are at the get-go, and the plot falls flat when trying to make viewers bond with them. 

Ultimately, though, ROSIE is a film about family and the unconditional support they provide, and is a good film to introduce someone, particularly a young person, to issues that affect our country.
(Photon Films)

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