The opioid crisis in Canada is real, and in no place is this more evident than in the Kainai First Nation in Alberta. Hundreds have lost their lives. And everyone has known someone or been related to someone who has been effected by this tragedy. Filmmaker Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers returns to home to help put faces to the epidemic, and help bring empathy to those who could use it most.
Kímmapiiyipitssini: The Meaning of Empathy can be a hard film to watch at times. Seeing the struggles faced by those addicted to drugs and alcohol is never easy. Tailfeathers walks a hard line. While she doesn’t want you to pity the people she is highlighting, it can be hard not to. Empathy is not meant to be easy however, and in dealing with the issue, you need to face it head on. Tailfeathers does this by giving us a history of the problem, different ways combat it, and the reality of the situation.
By introducing us to the people who have been, and are addicted, Tailfeathers pulls us into their lives. You care what happens to them, and hope they get the help they so desperately need. The film also gives a look at the frontline warriors. These warriors face the situation head on and have both saved lives and witnessed the devastating effect of addiction. By showing both sides Tailfeathers gives you a sense of hope, even when it can be hard to see.
While Kímmapiiyipitssini: The Meaning of Empathy is a little long and needs some editing without affecting the story that it’s telling, it is nonetheless a documentary that viewers should watch. After all, in order to be empathetic, you need to be aware of the world around you.