Friday, Oct. 28
14:30 – 17:30 (3 hrs)
Meeting Room: Birchwood Ballroom (Mezzanine)
Harry Karlinsky*, MD, MSc, FRCPC; Esther Tailfeathers, MD
At the end of this session, participants will be able to: 1) Identify the potential benefits of harm reduction strategies; 2) Reflect on how biases and positions of power may impact the therapeutic relationship with Indigenous patients; and 3) Recognize the medium of film as a powerful educational tool in promoting reflective discussion.
Elle–Máijá Tailfeathers’ film witnesses radical and profound change in her community. 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, a Blackfoot community facing the impacts of substance use and a drug-poisoning epidemic.
Surrounded by tall prairie grass gently swaying in the wind stands Elle-Máijá’s mother, Dr. Esther Tailfeathers. She is a family doctor and community harm-reduction advocate who teaches that, “Kimmapiiyipitssini means compassion… in our way of believing, if you help people out then you are blessed to continue to do that, and so our People are supposed to give what they have or what they can to help.” Kimmapiiyipitssini is at the heart of the harm-reduction strategy in this Blackfoot community.
Contextualized in the historical and lived trauma of settler colonialism, Kímmapiiyipitssini: The Meaning of Empathy draws a connecting line between the impacts of colonialism on Blackfoot land and people and the ongoing substance-use crisis. By questioning abstinence-only treatment, and showing the lives saved through harm-reduction models, the film asks the audience to be a part of the radical change to which the community is committed.
This film was awarded the Ted Rogers Best Feature Length Documentary, Canadian Screen Awards, Toronto, Canada (2022).
Post-screening discussion with Dr. Esther Tailfeathers, a family physician in her home community of Standoff, Alberta, an emergency room doctor in Cardston, Alberta, and the Indigenous Medical Lead with the Indigenous Health Program, Alberta Health Services. One of the biggest challenges that Dr. Tailfeathers faced in her medical career was the fentanyl crisis in her community. As depicted in Kímmapiiyipitssini: The Meaning of Empathy, she led the fight against the epidemic before the scope of the problem was recognized in the rest of Canada.
Director: Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers
Running Time: 124 min 50 s