Sudbury

After the Last River, film about Attawapiskat, in Sudbury tonight

A documentary showing in Sudbury tonight hopes to give a better picture of the issues facing the Attawapiskat First Nation.

Movie highlights relationship between First Nation and mining company in northern Ontario

The remains of a Canadian flag can be seen flying over a building in Attawapiskat in 2011. A documentary being screened in Sudbury tonight looks at the reserve's housing crisis and the 500-hectare Victor Diamond Mine that opened in 2008 with the promise of helping the community's economic situation. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

A documentary showing in Sudbury tonight hopes to give a better picture of the issues facing the Attawapiskat First Nation.

After the Last River looks at how the community in Ontario's far north dealt with the creation of the massive De Beers diamond mine on its territory, and how the hopes it would improve the economic situation for the community did not fully materialize.

Filmmaker Vicki Lean said she hopes non-Indigenous people will get a better understanding of the community's issues beyond the headlines.

"I thought I was making a film about Attawapiskat," she said. "But it turns out I was also making a film about Canada and how it reacts to places like Attawapiskat."

Filmed over five years, After the Last River is a point-of-view documentary that follows Attawapiskat's journey from obscurity and into the international spotlight during the protests of Idle No More.

It looks at the reserve's housing crisis and the 500-hectare Victor Diamond Mine that opened in 2008 with the promise of helping the community's economic situation.

"The first time I heard of De Beers coming to our community, I expected better opportunities and a better quality of life in Attawapiskat," former chief Theresa Spence said in the film. "But the way it is right now, our community is still living in poverty."

The documentary focuses on the impacts of the Victor Diamond mine on the First Nation. (Provided)

Lean said although some indigenous people have benefited from the mine, most of those are members of the First Nation who don't actually live on the reserve.

"Business opportunities and jobs for off-reserve band members don't really lift a community forward," she said.

Lean said she was shocked with how little information is being collected about the potential effects of the mine on resident's health or the environment.

"It appears from the data that does exist that mercury levels are going up, but there is no study into what that is doing to the people that live there and eat the fish," she said.

De Beers has spent more than $150 million at the mine in partnerships that include aboriginal businesses.

The film will be shown at 7 p.m. at the Open Studio in downtown Sudbury as part of Sudbury Indie Cinema's Women In Film Wednesdays. Tickets are $15 in advance, $20 at the door.

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