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When there’s trauma in the family, decluttering means more than just cleaning.


One Saturday morning, filmmaker Madison Thomas has a revelation: she’s just like her mother.

As she thinks about a friend going through tough times, she feels the sudden urge to clean. Through the scrubbing and wiping and rinsing, Madison's thoughts drift to her mother — and her obsessive need to tidy.

Madison’s mother survived a traumatic childhood: her own mother never reconciled what she went through at residential school. Cleaning offers moments of control that she didn’t have as a child. She’s fought hard, against all odds, to become a strong woman.

They say trauma is in the genes, that it’s passed from one generation to the next. But strength is inherited too. Through rituals as simple as spending time together and smudging, Madison and her mother are beginning to mend the cycle of pain in their family. Declutter is an intimate look into a private moment between mother and daughter and the strength that carries them both.