Kímmapiiyipitssini: The Meaning of Empathy is an intimate portrait of survival, love and the collective work of healing in the Kainai First Nation in southern Alberta. Lethbridge College will present a screening of the award-winning documentary on Nov. 22, followed by a panel discussion with local experts in health care, social work and addictions.

The film follows filmmaker Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers as she takes viewers into her community and shows the impacts of substance use and the overdose epidemic. Viewers witness the change brought by community members with substance-use disorder, first responders and medical professionals as they strive for harm reduction in the Kainai First Nation.

“As we take steps towards reconciliation, it’s important to shine a light on issues that affect our local Blackfoot community,” says Trudi Mason, Dean, Centre for Justice and Human Services. “The film does an excellent job of showing the human effects of generational trauma and the work of those who are making a difference in the Kainai First Nation. This is an important discussion as we work to incorporate Indigenous teachings and ways of knowing into our curriculum and services at Lethbridge College.”

Hosted by the college’s Centre for Justice and Human Services, in collaboration with Indigenous Services, Wellness Services and the National Film Board, the film is available to all Lethbridge College employees and students. As the Movie Mill is also screening the film, beginning Nov. 12, Lethbridge College has decided to open the panel discussion to the broader southern Alberta community through a virtual event at 3:15 p.m. on Nov. 22.

Clients at the Kainai Healing Lodge standing with Sean Chief Moon and Bryan Smith, addiction counsellors. (Courtesy: National Film Board)

The panel discussion will feature Alayna Many Guns, an opioid response coordinator with the Blood Tribe Department of Health; Chantelle Fitton, a triage nurse at Lethbridge College who has specialized in addiction treatment; Shelley Spear Chief, a clinical social worker who specializes in trauma; and Roxie Vaile, who is an Indigenous Hospital Liaison with Alberta Health Services.

“Each of the four highly-respected women bring to the panel their own knowledge, experience and expertise, allowing us to gain a deeper understanding of the addiction and opioid crisis we are dealing with here in southern Alberta,” says Marni Hope, Indigenous Student Support and Events coordinator at Lethbridge College. “I am confident what they share with us will be powerful, impactful and moving."

The trailer and more information about Kímmapiiyipitssini: The Meaning of Empathy is available on the National Film Board’s website.

More information and registration information for the panel discussion is available here.