Indigenous film targets ‘doctrine of discovery’ ahead of Pope’s Canadian visit

A new documentary exploring the link between a five-century-old papal edict and the subsequent colonization of tribal peoples and dispossession of their lands will have its world premiere next week in Vancouver.

The release of lesson in recovery coincides with Pope Francis’ planned visit to Canada in late July in the wake of a national reckoning on boarding schools.

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The film focuses on its namesake, the “Doctrine of Discovery,” a legal principle distilled in the late 14th century that justified the colonization and confiscation of land not occupied by Christians on the basis of “discovery.”

“(It) essentially gave Europeans permission to invade, steal, rape and kill in North and South America and other indigenous lands, all in the name of God,” Casey Camp-Horniek, environmental ambassador for the Ponca Nation Oklahoma, Global News said.

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Camp-Horinek is one of three generations of indigenous women co-hosting the film cheater Actress Crystle Lightening of the Enoch Cree Nation and Langley Hayes, host of the award-winning MMIWG documentary, say her name

The doctrine continues to resonate with US precedent and the Canadian Indian Act and must be overturned by the Pope, the film argues.

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In March, a delegation of indigenous leaders met with Pope Francis at the Vatican, where they urged him to repeal the doctrine.

Now, the film’s premiere at the First Nations Assembly’s annual meeting couldn’t be more fitting, said Kukpi Judy Wilson, secretary and treasurer of the Union of Indian Chiefs, in light of the Pope’s upcoming visit.

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“It’s an important message for everyone, as is the work we’re doing on the ground to reject the discovery doctrine,” she said.


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Residential School survivors respond to Pope’s visit


Residential School survivors respond to Pope’s visit

While the documentary covers centuries, it remains heavily focused on how the doctrine of discovery still dominates every aspect of modern Aboriginal life.

“We have the devastation in our country from tar sands oil, fracking, mining, we don’t have to look far to see that, and it adds up to the man-made climate crisis,” Wilson said.

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The filmmakers hope it leaves a lasting impression about the value of Mother Earth and why the Exploration Doctrine must be replaced with an edict that recognizes that tribal peoples and their lands should be treated with dignity and respect.

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“The Doctrine of Recovery appears to be a process of people recovering how to live within the laws of nature and how to reconcile human law with natural law, in the context of their current condition,” Camp-Horniek said.

“As an elder, I see the prophecies of our people in the indigenous community that we had a responsibility … to look to what life would be like for the next seven generations, just as the generations before us had. In other words, to make sure we have a place that is the one mother of us all, Mother Earth, that has clean water, good food and clean air.”

The film will premiere at the Vancouver Convention Center on Tuesday, July 5th.

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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