The Algonquin community of Barriere Lake, Quebec, is proud and resilient. In 1991, they signed an agreement with the government to protect and develop the town sustainably. The inhabitants want to defend the land for future generations. However, the federal and provincial powers refuse to honour the agreement. This spurs tense stand-offs between the town residents and Quebec police. Director Martha Stiegman looks at several families from Barriere Lake trying to keep their heads high, as political powers threaten their way of life.
Stiegman’s documentary is a searing look at a marginalized First Nations community. Her interviews with the town’s strongest defenders are riveting. We see the strength, as well as the fear, of people trying to stand up for their rights as big police battalions come to quell protests. The director’s biggest feat is how she gets the camera so close to the batons and tear-gas.
Honour Your Word is a powerful film about fighting for justice. Stiegman films several inflamed Aboriginals who speak about the lack of progress for their community. The director observes how people from all generations react to the struggle.
The documentary also looks at how many in town want to keep their Aboriginal way of life – hunting, fishing, learning the language – alive and well for further generations. “I don’t want to be rich in money,” one of them says. “I want to be rich in culture.”