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this river

Katherena Vermette and Erika MacPherson
2016 | 19 min 26 s

Prizes and awards

  • Coup de Coeur Award 2016Montreal First People’s Festival

  • Best Short DocumentaryCanadian Screen Awards 2017

  • Official SelectionNorthwestFest International Documentary & Media Arts Festival 2017

Short Synopsis

Long Synopsis


Clip #1

Clip #2

Clip #3

Promotional Materials

Q&A with Erika MacPherson and Katherena Vermette


Drag the Red volunteers Kyle Kematch and Calvin Alexander.
Drag the Red volunteers Kyle Kematch and Calvin Alexander.
Filmmakers Erika MacPherson and Katherena Vermette.
Filmmaker Katherena Vermette.
Winnipeg’s Red River.
Drag The Red volunteer Kyle Kematch and filmmaker Katherena Vermette.
Filmmaker Erika MacPherson and Cinematographer Iris Ng.
Film crew working on location.
Film crew working on location.
Film crew working on location.
Filmmaker Katherena Vermette.
Drag The Red volunteer Kyle Kematch.
Drag The Red volunteer Kyle Kematch.
Cinematographer Iris Ng.
Drag the Red volunteer Kyle Kematch.


Katherena Vermette
Photo : Lisa Delorme Meiler

Katherena Vermette

Katherena Vermette is a Métis writer of poetry, fiction and children’s literature. Her first book, North End Love Songs, won the 2013 Governor General’s Literary Award for Poetry and was the 2015 selection for On the Same Page, Manitoba’s province-wide book club. Her work has appeared in several literary magazines and anthologies. Vermette lives, works and plays in Winnipeg.

In addition to co-directing this National Film Board short doc, she is also releasing a novel this year, The Break. Set in Winnipeg’s North End community, The Break explores a family of women—their love, history and tragedy.

Katherena has been a proud member of the Indigenous Writers Collective since 2004, and holds a Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of British Columbia. When not writing, she coordinates arts programs in Winnipeg, where she lives with her family in a house within skipping distance of the temperamental Red River.

Erika MacPherson
Photo : Erika MacPherson

Erika MacPherson

Erika MacPherson is a video artist and documentary filmmaker whose work has screened at festivals and galleries internationally. She has also shot and cut films, music videos and installations for a host of acclaimed artists, and facilitates productions for agents of social change.

Erika’s recent projects include this river, a film she edited, co-wrote, and co-directed for the National Film Board of Canada, as well as Heimƥrà (In Thrall to Home), a film about a series of arduous treks that led her family to Manitoba.

She is the co-founder of the Núna (Now) festival (2006) and the St. Norbert Arts Centre (1991), both based in Winnipeg, and has sat on boards for many other artist-run centres. She has also adjudicated for the Canada, Manitoba and Winnipeg arts councils. Erika makes her home in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Treaty One territory, where her family settled in the 1800s.

Alicia Smith

Alicia Smith

Alicia Smith lives in Winnipeg and is a producer for the National Film Board of Canada, where she works with filmmakers and artists from across the country to create documentary, animation and interactive audiovisual works.

Her work at the NFB, which includes interactive projects God’s Lake Narrows (2011) and Seven Digital Deadly Sins (a 2014 co-production with the British newspaper The Guardian), has received recognition and awards from the Webby Awards, SXSW and IDFA. She co-wrote and produced the short film Nowhere Land with Igloolik-based filmmaker Bonnie Ammaaq, which won Best Short Documentary at Toronto’s imagineNATIVE festival (2015).

Prior to joining the NFB, Alicia worked at CBCRadio3.com, a media-rich online magazine that broke new ground in interactive storytelling and garnered international acclaim. In addition, her work as sole interactive producer, designer and programmer on Original Citizens, an online documentary created in collaboration with CBC Radio journalists, received a gold medal at the New York Festivals (2003).


indians drown
the family finds out
happens everyday
this land floods
with dead Indians
this river swells
breaks open
cold arms of ice
welcomes indians


Directed by
Erika MacPherson and Katherena Vermette

Written by
Katherena Vermette and Erika MacPherson

Alicia Smith

Executive Producer
David Christensen

Narration by
Katherena Vermette

Kyle Kematch
Calvin Alexander
Katherena Vermette

Director of Photography
Iris Ng

Location Sound Mixer
Sound Designer
Sound Editor
Anita Lubosch

Picture Editor
Erika MacPherson

Digital Intermediate Technician
Workflow Consultant
Marcel Kreutzer

Sound Mix Engineer
Bruce Little

Online Colourist
Tony Wytinck

Production Coordinators
Faye Yoneda
Jasmine Pullukatt

Production Supervisor
Mark Power

Production Assistant
Kristin Pontz

Program Administrators
Bree Beach
Ginette d’Silva

Centre Operations Manager
Darin Clausen

Marketing Manager
Leslie Stafford

Marketing Coordinator
Michelle Rozon

Director General of English Programming
Michelle Van Beusekom

Boat Drivers
Kyle Kematch / Drag the Red
Jan Bass / Whiskers and Walleye with Bass

Strategic Advisor
Etoile Stewart

Stills Photographer
Chris Friesen

Bernadette Smith
Sabrina Leister
Kyle Kematch
Calvin Alexander
Sheenah Fontaine

DTR Ground Search Voluneteers:
Tasha-Lynne Benjamin
Shauna Taylor
Paula Ducharme
Jennifer Coutu
Kimberly Kostiuk
Jessica Chisholm
Dion Rockwood
Ariunna Chislom

Ceremonial Blessing:
Ko’ona Cochrane

Red Robe Drummers:
Alison Cox
Alisheya Walker
Elizabeth Armstrong
Alison Dong
Carol Mann
Hilda Mann
Arlene Mitchell

Kelly Dodds / MidCanada Production Services
Chester Kazimirowich / Redboine Boat Club
Jan Bass / Whiskers and Walleye with Bass
Tom Corrigan
Rasheed Mohammed
Reuben Boulette
Pierre Vermette
Bob Smith
Leslie Smith
Leah Decter
Neechi Commons
St. Andrews Lock and Dam:
Elmer Mallett
Charles Leach
Earl Calder
Brent Murray

Shot on the Red River in and around Winnipeg, the St. Andrews Lock & Dam,
and Lake Winnipeg

Poetry excerpt, indians, from north end love songs
by Katherena Vermette

Press Relations

  • About the NFB

    The NFB is Canada’s public producer and distributor of award-winning documentaries, auteur animation, interactive stories and participatory experiences, working with talented creators across the country. The NFB is taking action to combat systemic racism and become a more open and diverse organization, while working to strengthen Indigenous-led production and gender equity in film and digital media. NFB productions have won more than 7,000 awards, including 12 Oscars. To access this unique content, visit NFB.ca.