The New Yorker has published a short documentary about Joe Buffalo, a Canadian Cree and professional skateboarder who survived residential schooling. It’s the most important thing you’ll watch this year.
On October 6, 2021 The New Yorker magazine published a 15-minute documentary produced by professional skateboarder Tony Hawk about Joe Buffalo. Born and raised a Samson Cree in Maskwacis, Alberta, Buffalo is the grandson of famous peacekeeper Chief Poundmaker and he was proud of his heritage. That is until he was sent to a residential school like his parents and grandparents before him. The Canadian government set up these now infamous institutions starting in 1893 and this past year unmarked graves were discovered in multiple buildings around the country where First Nations people were housed and taught. Many of the bones discovered belonged to children.
The New Yorker published an article written by Dan Greene along with the documentary that was directed by Amar Chebib’s and you can read the entire story here: https://www.newyorker.com/culture/the-new-yorker-documentary/a-cree-skateboarding-legend-grapples-with-the-trauma-of-canadas-residential-schools.
In the written piece and the film, Buffalo recounts his time in residential school, his escape to Ottawa, his resultant struggles with drugs and alcohol, and how skateboarding ultimately saved his life. Filmmaker Chebib believed it was an important story to tell because, as he recounts in the article, many Canadians are under the impression the atrocities happened in the distant past, when, in actual fact they operated into the ’90s. The piece goes on to say that “in 2015, the country’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission released a report condemning the program, in which thousands of children disappeared or died, as “cultural genocide.'”
On September 30, 2021, Canada recognized its first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation and more can be learned about it on the official webpage here: https://nctr.ca.