Romance of the Far Fur Country: Reconciliation?


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Over the past few months, we have really explored and researched the HBC, as it this corporation seems to be pretty significant in the development of Canada, for better or for worse.

Prior to the break, we watched Kevin Nikkel‘s Romance of the Far Fur Country, an HBC film from 1919, which demonstrated the impact of the HBC from a certain perspective. To refresh ourselves, here is a small clip:

Today, we are going to watch On the Trail of the Far Fur Country, a documentary featuring Kevin taking the film to the different communities originally visited in 1919. As we watch it, can you identify any themes of reconciliation? Despite the negative impact of the HBC in some communities, does this documentary offer a glimmer of hope in terms of repairing the relationship between indigenous peoples and the rest of Canada? Why or why not?

Please respond below and please use your Extraordinary Canadians name when you comment.


9 thoughts on “Romance of the Far Fur Country: Reconciliation?

  1. In the film On the Trail of the Far Fur Country, there were many themes of reconciliation. It was surprising to see mostly positive reactions from the Northern First Nation communities. They enjoyed seeing “moving pictures” of family members they knew of or remembered. There was a sense of belonging, shared history, and connectedness between First Nations people and Canadians today. There is “a glimmer of hope in terms of repairing the relationship between indigenous peoples and the rest of Canada” because of the understanding that the past has already happened, but what matters now is Canadians taking responsibility for the future that will make a difference, like Kevin Nikkel taking the film to the different communities in the Romance of the Far Fur Country made a positive difference.

  2. There is a lack of communication between the First nation communities and the rest of Canada. This documentary offers a unique perspective into the lives of First nations living within reserves. Despite the damage the HBC inflicted on these communities, many residences seem to have coped and moved on. Their positive reaction to this film shows that reconciliation is possible.

  3. After watching this documentary, it is evident to me that reconciliation is entirely possible. There are many individuals of Aboriginal decent featured in the film, and the reactions they have are, as noted by Thomas Douglas, mostly positive. They noted how it was like watching “moving pictures,” since they’ve only ever seen their ancestors in still photographs. The HBC’s documentary gave them an opportunity to see their ancestors moving and interacting with other people; it’s a glimpse into the past. The way a white dude is able to openly discuss how the HBC treated Aboriginals is proof that reconciliation is possible.

  4. Despite the negative effects the HBC had on many people, this documentary does offer hope to repair those relationships. The documentary displays the efforts of non-native people to show insight into these communities that were affected by the HBC. The documentary allows for people to see the effects of the HBC on the communities which they originally visited, and also for people to empathize with the people in these communities. Once this empathy has been established, the healing process of the relationship can begin.

  5. The fact that both of these documentary were made shows that issues related to Hudson Bay Company and the Indigenous are being openly brought up and discussed by the people and themselves. Even though this is not a big step towards reconciliation when looked through a big picture; compared to the past, it has improved. Because, in the past the lack of communication between them was the problem and without communication there is will be no solution that both are going to satisfy.

  6. This film is not a direct part of reconciliation but it opens a part of history that was not visible in the past. This history is told from the perspective of the HBC and reflects the large influence that it has had on aboriginal communities. It also serves as a document of Aboriginal culture documenting traditional attire from the pot latch and housing that can now be used to determine what a more traditional way of life looked like. This information may help for reconciliation by educating more people about the changes in the ways of the north.

  7. The act of bringing Romance of the Far Fur Country to the communities filmed opens the door to reconciliation, and thus can be considered a part of reconciliation itself. The people in the communities, watching the film, had no visual record of their ancestors in the way that most of us do, and frequently expressed wonder and joy at being able to make a connection between the people onscreen and the stories that were passed down about those long gone in their family. Even though the HBC impacted indigenous people negatively, there is still the potential for reconciliation, and these communities reconciling their oral history with this visual record of their history is a good place to start.

  8. There are many actions that Canada should take to reconcile their actions towards First Nations, although sharing this film is a good step in repairing their relationship. Showing the First Nations the film gave them a chance to actually see their ancestors. They were only able to record history orally, so they did not know much about their relatives besides stories. This sharing of history can form a better relationship between Canada and indigenous people. This can lead to a better relationship where Canada can continue to compensate for their history with the First Nations.

  9. When the indigenous peoples featured in the documentary On the Trail of the Far Fur Country were shown the documentary (Romance of a Far Fur Country), they were mainly happy to have the opportunity to see this documentary. To them the documentary that they were shown felt like “a lost photo album.” This is because the documentary that they were shown allowed them to see family members that they had up to that day, never actually seen before in their entire lives, or on film. When they showed the Indigenous peoples the more “provocative” scenes from the documentary Romance of a Far Fur Country, the indigenous peoples reactions were to me, unexpected. For example, when the scene of indigenous peoples going to the church was shown, and was then followed by the shot of the sentence, “Indians are regular Church Goers,” the Indigenous people watching just laughed. I had expected them to get angry, but they laughed instead. It was this type of unexpected reactions that really surprised me.

    The Indigenous peoples featured in the film continued to surprise me with their greatly forgiving and forward thinking attitudes towards the long lasting turmoil between the Canadians and the Indigenous Peoples. The Indigenous peoples showed two themes of reconciliation by being so forgiving and forward thinking. They understood that these white men were assimilating them and destroying their culture, because they thought that they were helping the Indigenous peoples. This was the first theme of reconciliation that they showed, they forgave the white men for trying to destroy their culture and religion, because they knew that the white men only had the best intentions at heart. They decided to leave the past in the past, forgive, and begin focusing on the future. This is where the second theme of reconciliation comes in. The Indigenous peoples featured in this documentary knew that they couldn’t focus on what they called the “dark years” anymore. They knew that they instead had to move on, and they also knew that they had what they needed to move on. Therefore, they focused on the future, instead of dwelling on the past. Throughout this documentary the Indigenous people featured did not hold a vast amount of hatred and resentment towards the events of the past, but that didn’t mean that they were fully ok with what happened in the past. They did not always like how the indigenous peoples were treated and portrayed in the documentary they were shown. However, they appreciated that because of the strength and resilience of their people, they are here today, and still able to practice their religion and culture, and that is very significant to them.

    This documentary also shows a glimmer of hope in terms of repairing the relationship between the indigenous peoples and the rest of Canada. The Indigenous people in this film seem ready to move on towards the future, and work past the events of the past. it is the majority of the rest of Canada that I don’t know about. Near the last scene of the documentary shown to the Indigenous peoples, a shot of the Chipewyans chief sending a video message to the king is shown to an Indigenous women. The Chief’s message to the king reads, “the White Man is breaking the treaty and that for the Indian there should never be any ‘close season’ on game.” The women then responds to this shot she has just been shown, by saying that it is time to settle this unfairness once and for all (The Indigenous People’s promised lands, treaties, and so on). She then says that when leaders like this are saying the same thing for so long, then we know that they are not being unreasonable, and that there is something unfair going on. This Indigenous women is right, the unfairness needs to be settled. However, in my opinion which is based of the events that occurred in the documentary (On the Trail of the Far Fur Country), in order for the unfairness to be settled and a new healed and stable relationship to be formed between Canada and the Indigenous peoples, the rest of Canada must come to fairly settle with the Indigenous Peoples.

    The Indigenous peoples and the rest of Canada are not just separate groups unrelated to each other. They both share the same history, and therefore have a relationship with each other that is much bigger than the both of them. A relationship, that after watching this documentary, may have a chance to heal and grow, in my opinion.

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