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#TIFF19 Review: Jordan River Anderson, The Messenger (Masters)

September 4, 2019

By John Corrado

★★★ (out of 4)

The 53rd film from Alanis Obomsawin, Jordan River Anderson, The Messenger continues the Canadian filmmaker’s long history of documenting the injustices faced by Indigenous people in Canada and the fight for equal treatment under the law. This film focuses on the case of Jordan River Anderson, a baby from Norway House Cree Nation in Manitoba who was born with a rare muscular disorder and died when he was only five years old without ever having left the hospital.

While Jordan had been permitted by doctors to move into a home and receive care in his community, his parents got tied up in a battle over funding for his treatment, with the provincial and federal government entering into a dispute over who was responsible for his care. Despite healthcare being handled by the provinces in this country, Indigenous communities still fall under federal jurisdiction. Jordan’s death in 2005 led the government to introduce Jordan’s Principle, a 2007 motion ensuring that First Nations children would have equal access to government-funded care, which passed unanimously in the house but wouldn’t be properly implemented for another decade.

At just 65 minutes long, Obomsawin has crafted a film that is both personal and political, documenting the heartbreaking story of Jordan River Anderson, and the ensuing battle that followed to get Jordan’s Principle put into action so that some good could come out of this tragic case. Through heartwrenching home video footage of Jordan’s brief life in the hospital, and new interviews with his family and others effected by these gaps in funding, Jordan River Anderson, The Messenger is a poignant and important look at issues of inequality in the Canadian healthcare system that ends with some hope for the future.

Public Screenings:

Tuesday, September 10th – 6:00 PM at Jackman Hall (AGO)

Thursday, September 12th – 12:00 PM at Jackman Hall (AGO)

Saturday, September 14th – 6:15 PM at TIFF Bell Lightbox 4

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