Now Streaming: NFB Doc ‘The Rose Family’ Examines the October Crisis on Its 50th Anniversary

By Pat Mullen

This month marks the 50th anniversary of the October Crisis. The events began on 5 October 1970 when members of the Front de liberation du Québec (FLQ) kidnapped British trade commissioner James Cross. The events escalated as the FLQ subsequently kidnapped and executed Pierre Laporte, Quebec’s Minister of Labour, inspiring events that eventually led Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau to invoke the War Measures Act—an decision that has yet to be repeated during peacetime. The newly released NFB documentary The Rose Family, which is now available to stream, offers a personal study of these historical events that shaped Canadian culture.

The Rose Family sees Félix Rose pursue questions about his father Paul, who was charged for the kidnapping and murder of Laporte, and received a sentence of life in prison. The film features rare archival images and new interviews with members of the Rose family, including Félix’s uncle Jacques, who speaks on the matter for the first time after being sentenced to eight years in prison as an accomplice to the kidnapping. Rose’s portrait seeks a deeper understanding of the context that motivated his father and others to commit such violent acts—and further insight as to how the events of October 1970 influence Quebec and Canada today.

Synopsis: In October 1970, members of the Front de libération du Québec kidnapped provincial government minister Pierre Laporte—unleashing an unprecedented crisis in the province. Fifty years later, Félix Rose tries to understand what led his father and his uncle to commit these acts. Through intimate conversations with his uncle Jacques, speaking on the subject for the first time, and the legacy of his father Paul, he relives the rich heritage of a working-class Québécois family and emphasizes the social dimensions of the October Crisis. The result of 10 years of research, The Rose Family allows us to experience moments and figures now known only through a few cliché images, giving us glimpses of the social barriers experienced by an outraged young generation and the upheavals that would follow.

Watch The Rose Family for free from the NFB.

The Rose Family, Félix Rose, provided by the National Film Board of Canada