The Grizzlies, a movie about the determination and resilience of a group of Inuit youth in a small Arctic community will debut at the Capitol Theatre in Yellowknife this Saturday & Sunday. The movie, which has been 20 years in the making, will be matinees only, with shows at 4:10 p.m. on the weekend.
Directed by Miranda de Pencier, the movie tells the story of a Kugluktuk youth lacrosse team who beat the dark forces of depression, suicide and other legacies of colonization in their community through sport. The Grizzlies is a testament to the spirit, tenacity, and leadership of Inuit youth, persisting in spite of immense pressure and hardship.
‘In 1998, first-time teacher Russ Sheppard moves north for a job at a local school in Kugluktuk, a town struggling with one of the highest suicide rates in North America. With no previous experience or knowledge of life in the north, Russ is shocked and overwhelmed by the numerous social issues facing the youth, all as a result of the massive legacy of colonization on their families and communities. Russ introduces a lacrosse program in the school and although the program is at first met with skepticism and resistance, Russ’s commitment begins to win the trust of the students and together they form the Grizzlies lacrosse team. Through the sport, the youth find a vital outlet for their emotions and the team creates a sense of pride and purpose in themselves and their community.’
One of the film’s producers, Stacey Aglok MacDonald, originally from Kugluktuk, told Moose FM in March that the film stars many first-time Inuit actors including Nunavut-based Paul Nutarariaq and Emerald MacDonald. She added that this movie was a great example of Indigenous and non-Indigenous collaboration.
“When people watch it in the south they’re going to experience something completely different and very intimate because these stories are real stories that we’ve tried to tell so honestly and respectfully. I don’t think that could have been achieved if we didn’t have Indigenous producers that were so involved right from the beginning right to the end.”
The film premiered in Kugluktuk in March tears and standing ovations and continued its Northern tour across 33 communities. The movie was screened in 100 theatres across Canada on April 19th.