Hot Docs 2017: Bee Nation

A group of kids set out to participate in the first ever First Nations Provincial Spelling Bee in Bee Nation. First Nations students from across Saskatchewan are preparing to participate in the first ever First Nations Provincial Spelling Bee, with the winners getting a chance to participate in the Spelling Bee of Canada Nationals in Toronto. Among the participants are 9 year old William Kaysaywaysemat III, 12 year old Makayla Cannepotato, and 13 year old Alexander Johansson. The spelling bee is just one of the efforts to improve the education and future of First Nations kids in Canada.

A recurring statement made in Lana Slezic’s Bee Nation is that the parents of these children want to ensure that they have a safe and secure future. Part of this is to make sure that the kids receive a proper education, with the participation in this first ever First Nations Spelling Bee being part of that. Bee Nation follows a handful of the kids as they participate in both the Provincial and later National competitions.

There is a bit of a bittersweet message in Bee Nation, since even though the kids are receiving a decent education, poor funding results in English and math courses taking precedent over courses to learn the kid’s culture. However, Bee Nation is still a very heartwarming little story, which will leave you cheering for these kids as they strive for the Spelling Bee Nationals.

8 / 10 stars


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Sean Kelly Author

Sean Patrick Kelly is a self-described über-geek, who has been an avid film lover for all his life. He graduated from York University in 2010 with an honours B.A. in Cinema and Media Studies and he likes to believe he knows what he’s talking about when he writes about film (despite occasionally going on pointless rants).