The story of Saul Indian Horse is one that played out across Canada for several decades, where young First Nations children would be plucked from their communities and their families, and committed to one of the country’s notorious Catholic residential schools.
Indian Horse follows the story of young seven-year-old Saul, who’s torn from his Ojibway family in the late ’50s and placed in the school. In this oppressive environment, he’s barred from speaking his language or embracing his Indigenous heritage, and bears witness to unspeakable abuse at the hands of those who are supposed to take care of him.
Salvation comes in the form of hockey; fascinated by the game, he teaches himself how to play and becomes an absolute dynamo on the ice. His talent leads him away from the misery of the school to a Northern Ontario native league, and eventually the pros. The ghosts of Saul’s past, however, will always haunt him. In one particularly painful scene, a grown-up Saul is pelted with toy “Indian” figurines on the ice.
Forced to confront painful memories and revelations, Saul draws on the spirit of his ancestors and the understanding of his friends to gain the compassion he so sorely needs in order to begin healing.
Indian Horse is a survivors’ tale that showcases the indomitable spirit of North America’s First Nations people in the face of aggressive assimilation policies and racism. Saul Indian Horse’s story can be a tool to help foster further compassion and understanding, and in the process, become universal.
An adaptation of Richard Wagamese’s award-winning novel of the same name, Indian Horse stars Canadians Sladen Peltier, Ajuawak Kapashesit, Edna Manitouwabe and Forrest Goodluck, and is co-executive-produced by none other than Hollywood legend Clint Eastwood.
Indian Horse won the People’s Choice Award at the Vancouver Film Festival, the Calgary International Film Festival and the Edmonton International Film Festival.
Here’s the official poster for the film.
(You can watch the trailer in the video, top.)
‘Indian Horse’ opens in theatres across Canada on April 13.