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At the centre of this stirring documentary is a call to action by Layla Staats, a filmmaker, speaker and land and water activist of the Mohawk Nation, Turtle Clan. As captured by directors Stevie Salas and James Burns, Staats’ mission is to raise awareness of the many Indigenous communities across Canada and the U.S. who continue to lack drinkable water after decades of empty promises and failed government fixes. Her campaign also takes her beyond affected communities like the Neskantaga First Nation in northern Ontario to other places and people that have suffered the effects of environmental racism, like the members of the Navajo Nation still dealing with the aftermath of the most radioactive accident in U.S. history. Though the film’s revelations can be shocking, its moments of great poignancy and demonstrations of resilience make for a deeply affecting experience, one that will surely inspire many viewers to continue the fight.
Directors: Stevie Salas & James Burns
Runtime: 104 minutes
Content advisory: themes of racism, institutionalized violence, intergenerational trauma, residential schools
Layla Staats is an inspirational and creative multidisciplinary Artist based in the Six Nations, whose works stem from her deep understanding of Indigenous strength from her heart and soul. As an Indigenous Film Maker, Musician, Speaker, and Activist, she advocates for Indigenous rights, and utilizes her mediums to provide a platform for the stories and movements of her community. Layla has dedicated her life to her work in order to deeply nurture and inspire the compassion, respect, and admiration for her people and roots. She is a 4th generation survivor of residential schools in Canada and stands to inspire others like her who are on their own reclamation story. Her activism for water protection and water rights for First Nations communities has taken her on a journey across Turtle Island. Her gift for teaching and connecting has left lasting impacts on young and old. With a shining light that seemingly never dims and a strength that can never be broken, her work speaks for itself–revealing a one-of-a-kind voice that stands with courage and conviction. Layla Staats is a powerful artist with a profound calling and a stunning legacy.
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