We often imagine our civil rights leaders as infallible heroes. After all, the courage and will to stand up to oppression take incredible strength. Often we ignore just how difficult these decisions can become. Activists are not only fighting for their own reasons, but they often put themselves and their loved ones in danger. As filmmakers follow activist lawyer Aaju Peter, they observe an Inuit woman struggling with every aspect of her life. Twice Colonized presents a far more intimate view of a woman struggling to survive while trying to protect a way of life.

Aaju Peter has lived a difficult life. At a young age, her family was taken from the Inuit village of her people. She was assimilated into Western Society, and while this provided her the benefits of a lawyer’s education, it also pulled her away from the traditions of her people. She was not white, as she was reminded many times, but also not raised Inuit. Decades later, her activism has helped raise the profile of Inuit causes. At the same time, she struggles with her lost heritage, the death of her son, and continuous domestic abuse at the hands of her partner.

Documentarian Lin Alluna stumbled across powerful footage when she chose to embed with Peter as she worked on various campaigns. On one hand, Twice Colonized brings an important eye to the causes of Peter’s life. That alone is worth focusing a camera on the outspoken and brash leader. Peter not only shows confidence in her cause, but the ways she speaks about the Inuit experience feel essential. Her perspective on the struggles of those who continue to live in Inuit communities is essential as the world continues to change.

However, we have seen documentaries that follow activists before. Where Twice Colonized shifts is how the filmmakers observe her spiraling personal life. Peter presents a strong front to the world, but her life behind the scenes would bring many to their knees. Her boyfriend, who we never see on screen, beats her on several occasions while the crew follows her. He continually calls Peter, despite her busy schedule. He continues to gaslight and display jealousy, even going so far as to accuse Peter of cheating. It’s a toxic relationship, only made worse as she grieves the loss of her son. Having to heal from a devasting event while in the public eye cannot be easy. With the emotional terrorism she’s experiencing at home, this is a harmful combination.

While much Twice Colonized plays like a typical biographical documentary, the intimate moments from Peter’s life differentiate it from others like it. The messages Peter attempts to deliver remain integral to her mission. Yet giving us insight into the day-to-day difficulties of her life makes her fight even more relatable. When someone goes through this pain and still finds the strength to fight on, it adds to the inspirational nature of their story.

Alan’s Rating: 7/10

What do you think of Twice Colonized? Let us know in the comments below! Twice Colonized advocates for Indigenous Rights, Shelters for Women, and the work of Aaju Peter. Please visit this link to learn how to help the causes of the film.

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