TIFF ’22: Bones of Crows

Directed by the talented Indigenous director Marie Clements, Bones of Crows follows the epic and horrid journey of Aline Spears (an incredible Grace Dove), an indigenous women member of the Manitoba Cree community. Following her journey from the 1920s through to the 2000s, Crow’s story highlights the torture that she endured as a survivor of residential schools. From the horrors inflicted upon them by the Catholic Church to the forced separation of families, Aline and her siblings fight to survive in a country that works equally as hard to eradicate them.

Highlighting the pervasive sexual abuse and the murder of children without repercussions from the government, Bones of Crows shows the disgusting filth that the ‘civilized’ white people did to these ‘savage Indians’. As a result, Aline’s life is one of torture, suffering from the emotional and physical effects of the Catholic Church. Stripping the Cree of both their culture and their humanity, the Church masked genocide with a will to ‘help’. Despite their attempts to apologize, Crows reminds the viewer that the Catholic church still has not taken full responsibility for their actions.

However, at the same time, the film also shows the amazing perseverance that the strength the Cree (and, more specifically, Aline) revealed as they attempt to dig themselves out of the dark pit that the White population have put them through, including taking the opportunity to challenge and confront their abusers. In the face of generational trauma, the Cree community continue to speak their story in their own voice to take back the truth that was denied them.

In the end, Bones of Crows is truly a powerful film that all Canadians should see. Although it may be hard to watch, the film is absolute must-viewing, especially at a time when the Indigenous population still have not received what they deserve as restitution.

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