Autonomous Sinixt are hosting a limited film tour through the Sinixt təmxʷúlaʔxʷ (homeland) this week, stopping by The Royal Theatre in downtown Trail on Friday night, May 13, and showing a new film at 7 p.m. titled Beyond Extinction: Sinixt Resurgence.
Beyond Extinction: A Sinixt Resurgence documents three decades of Indigenous struggle by the Sinixt people, whose traditional territories are in southwest B.C. and the United States, divided by the border.
The Sinixt seek recognition for themselves and their traditional practices under Canada’s constitution.
Revealing a story never told before, the film weaves together personal and public archives with observational footage, contemporary interviews, oral histories, and survival stories told by matriarchs.
The documentary traces through generations how the Indian Act, colonialism, residential schools, and borders, led to the Canadian government declaring the Sinixt people to be “extinct.”
Filmmaker Ali Kazimi’s journey began in 1995, when he was invited and granted intimate access to the community building work of autonomous Sinixt peoples.
The documentary starts by locating the viewer within the landscape of the territory and traces the story of a Sinixt man who faced deportation from Canada because he was born on Sinixt land on the U.S. side of the international border.
The story involves Canada’s immigration laws, environmental laws, and hunting and fishing rights.
The film also traces the journey of matriarchs Marilyn James, Eva Orr and Alvina Lum; James was appointed the official spokesperson of the Sinixt in 1992.
Kazimi follows the three matriarchs and communities supporting them over a 25-year period as they repatriated the remains of ancestors held in museums, fought against logging in their traditional territories, revived ceremonies, conveyed oral histories and fought against erasure by the Canadian government.
The documentary ends with a ruling by the Supreme Court of Canada but the fight against “extinction” continues.
In 2019, Ali Kazimi was honoured with the Governor General’s Award for Lifetime Achievement in Visual and Media Arts for over three decades of ground- breaking work as a documentary and media artist. His work deals with race, social justice, migration, history, and memory. His film Continuous Journey (2004), alongside his book, Undesirables: White Canada and the Komagata Maru (2011), have played a key role in shedding light on the forgotten histories of early South Asian immigration to Canada. Born, raised, and educated in India, Kazimi came to Canada to study film production at York University in 1983. Two decades later, after establishing himself as an award- winning independent filmmaker, Kazimi returned to York University, where he is a full professor in media arts.