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Rooted in Indigenous storytelling tradition, Life in the City of Dirty Water is a series of intimate vignettes that weave together the remarkable life of Cree climate change activist, Clayton Thomas-Müller. The film plunges audiences into an immersive storytelling journey, discovering the people and places and traumas and triumphs that shaped Clayton’s identity and cosmology. These are impossible stories weaving together different roles: a Sundancer, a father, a husband, an abused child, a hustler, a leader. Stories that juxtapose Clayton’s rise as a prominent Indigenous campaigner (at the Indigenous Environmental Network, Idle No More, and with his raw and troubled journey of addiction, incarceration, healing, and forgiveness.

This 20-minute documentary follows Clayton as he journeys between audiences, between memories, providing an intimate and raw portrait of the storyteller. The themes in the film are nuanced and complex, tender and intimate: being Native in an urban city, coming of age as the first generation out of residential school, becoming politically active in an environmental justice movement. The film addresses colonization and displacement of Indigenous Peoples from our sacred land told through direct experiences of colonial trauma and healing. These are stories of feeling the pull of Creator and working to stop the destruction of Mother Earth. These stories are a man telling his inner child, “I’m here now and I’m going to keep you safe. I’m going to hold you close when there’s violence and nobody’s going to hurt you. This is my responsibility.”

Credits (Click to expand)

Clayton Thomas-Muller
Koren Thomas-Muller
Felix Thomas-Muller
Jackson Thomas-Muller
Stuart Desnomie
Brennan Manoakeesick
Gail Thomas
Walking Wolf Singers

Executive Producer
Clayton Thomas-Muller

Spencer Mann

Clayton Thomas-Muller and Spencer Mann

Clayton Thomas-Muller and Anna Lee-popham

Spencer Mann

Spencer Mann

Leonard Sumner, Fawn Wood, Flying Down Thunder, Rise Ashen

Additional Footage
Michael Tyas and Wa Ni Ska Ton
David Sanger
Isabeau Doucet

Special Thanks To
Thunderbird House
The Earl
The Tommy Douglas Institute at George Brown College
Buddies in Bad Times Theatre
Winnipeg Artspace