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Richard Cardinal: Cry from a Diary of a Métis Child

Alanis Obomsawin
1986 | 29 min
Richard Cardinal died by his own hand at the age of 17, having spent most of his life in a string of foster homes and shelters across Alberta. In this short documentary, Abenaki director Alanis Obomsawin weaves excerpts from Richard’s diary into a powerful tribute to his short life. Released in 1984—decades before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission—the film exposed the systemic neglect and mistreatment of Indigenous children in Canada’s child welfare system. Winner of the Best Documentary Award at the 1986 American Indian Film Festival, the film screened at New York’s Museum of Modern Art in 2008 as part of an Obomsawin retrospective, and continues to be shown around the world.

Awards and distinctions

  • Special Award - Category: Educational Visual Anthropology to Children and Youth
    Visual Anthropology Festival, Parnu
    1991
  • Crystal Apple Award - Category: Human Relations / Teen Suicide
    National Educational Film and Video Festival, Oakland
    1989
  • Red Ribbon Award - Category: Current Concerns
    Itinerant - American Film and Video Festival, New York
    1988
  • Prize for Best Documentary
    Annual American Indian Film Festival, San Francisco
    1986