Our Collection

Place of the Boss: Utshimassits

Top of page

In the mid-1960s, the Mushuau Innu, one of the last hunter-gatherer peoples of North America, were forced to abandon their 6,000-year nomadic life style and settle in the village of Davis Inlet on the coast of Northern Labrador--a place the Innu named Utshimassits (ooh-she-mah-seet), or the Place of the Boss. Their relocation resulted in physical dislocation and cultural collapse. In February, 1992, six children died in a house fire in the settlement. The national media seized upon the story as a stark example of the pain and despair associated with the loss of traditional culture. For the people themselves, the tragedy was the starting point in a process of reflection and change. This behind-the-headlines look at the recovery weaves a profound sense of place through the use of archival footage of the breathtaking Labrador landscape juxtaposed against haunting present-day images of the dilapidated conditiong of Davis Inlet. First-person testimony from elders, band leaders and youth allows the voices of the community to express their own rarely heard point of view. The result is a documentary that delves beyond the national headlines of substance abuse, suicide and rural slum conditions to provide a profile of a people confronting the tragedy of their current circumstance by summoning the traditions, memories and culture of their proud past.

1996, 48 min 46 s

Top of page

Donald Brittain Award for Best Documentary Program
Gemini Awards
February 28 to March 2 1997, Toronto - Canada

Rex Tasker Award for Best Atlantic Documentary - with a cash prize of 1,500$
Atlantic Film Festival
September 20 to 28 1996, Halifax - Canada

Golden Sheaf Award - Category: Best Documentary over 30 minutes
Yorkton Film Festival
May 30 to June 2 1996, Yorkton - Canada

Golden Sheaf Award - Category: Best Film of the Festival
Yorkton Film Festival
May 30 to June 2 1996, Yorkton - Canada

Golden Sheaf Award - Category: Best Original Music
Yorkton Film Festival
May 30 to June 2 1996, Yorkton - Canada