This short documentary examines an innovative educational program developed by John and Gerti Murdoch to teach Cree children their language via Cree folklore, photographs, artifacts, and books that were written and printed in the community.
Made as part of the NFB’s groundbreaking Challenge for Change series, Cree Way shows that local control of the education curriculum has a place in Indigenous communities.
This short documentary from 1966 shows life in the Chipewyan community on a reserve in Northern Saskatchewan, where new ways of living don’t conflict with traditional activities. You’ll meet Moise MacIntyre, who is satisfied living along the lake with its fish and the game in the nearby woods, despite having the opportunity to leave. Free from the burden of having to succeed in the traditional sense of financial earnings, these people have created a sense of community that more than makes up for what they may otherwise lack.
This short film is an exposé on the style of fishing done by Indigenous fishermen in the Prairie provinces. The commentary is offered by a fisherman as he goes about his business. He recalls his boyhood when the men of his band freighted by canoe for the Hudson's Bay Company. He also speaks of education, of sickness and health, of family, of poverty, of the pleasures of a Saturday night dance, and he demonstrates the tricks of his own trade - when to set a net, how to handle fish, and what it all costs in money, time, equipment and skill. Commercial fishermen may learn effective measures for protecting the freshness and attractiveness of freshwater catches, while general audiences will enjoy a telling view of Indigenous life and enterprise.
In 1977, the James Bay Festival took place over nine days in Montreal. This historic one-of-a-kind event was held in support of the James Bay Cree whose territory, resources and culture were threatened by the expansion of hydro-electric dams. First Nations, Métis and Inuit performers came from across North America to show their support in an act of Indigenous unity and solidarity few people in Montreal had ever witnessed. Rarely seen early performances by legendary Indigenous artists Gordon Tootoosis, Tom Jackson, Duke Redbird, Willie Dunn and director Alanis Obomsawin herself are interspersed with testimonies of members of the James Bay Cree. Their stories reveal first-hand experiences of the negative impacts of capitalistic expansion on Cree land.
Also available on the Alanis Obomsawin: A Legacy DVD box set
This feature-length documentary chronicles the Sundance ceremony brought to Eastern Canada by William Nevin of the Elsipogtog First Nation of the Mi'kmaq. Nevin learned from Elder Keith Chiefmoon of the Blackfoot Confederacy in Alberta. Under the July sky, participants in the Sundance ceremony go four days without food or water. Then they will pierce the flesh of their chests in an offering to the Creator. This event marks a transmission of culture and a link to the warrior traditions of the past.
This powerful short documentary showing Indigenous youth resistance and emerging voices that will continue to define the landscape of Indigenous cultural and political activism for the next generation. Members of the National Youth Council, including Duke Redbird and Harold Cardinal, have a powerful exchange with a hostile white priest about the failures of the education system in relation to Indigenous people. The group tackles issues including segregated residential schools, the denial of citizenship rights, loss of language, and mass incarceration, many of which persist or continue to be stumbling blocks in the relationship between Indigenous people and the Government of Canada today.
An NFB crew filmed a group of three families, Cree hunters from Mistassini. Since times predating agriculture, this First Nations people have gone to the bush of the James Bay and Ungava Bay area to hunt. We see the building of the winter camp, the hunting and the rhythms of Cree family life.
This short film from 1958 compiles 3 short reportages on different ways kids are schooled in remote areas. To School by Boat follows children of isolated fishing hamlets along a stretch of British Columbia coastline as they travel to school by sea-going bus. In Classroom on Rails, we hop along a railway coach that brings school to children in a logging area of northern Ontario. Northern Schooldays introduces us to First Nations children educated in a residential school in Moose Factory.
Please note that this film was produced in 1958 and reflects the attitudes and thinking of its era. To modern audiences, parts of the film may be perceived as offensive, but it must be seen as a cultural product of the era in which it was produced. The perspectives of Canadians (and the NFB) have evolved and become more conscious of Indigenous rights, realities and points of view since the making of the film. Through its rich collection of Indigenous-made films, available at Indigenous Cinema, the NFB continues to strive to challenge stereotypes about Indigenous people and accurately depict the diverse experiences of Indigenous communities.
Online release: November 30, 2012 The Algonquin once lived in harmony with the vast territory they occupied. This balance was upset when the Europeans arrived in the 16th century. Gradually, their Aboriginal traditions were undermined and their natural resources plundered. Today, barely 9,000 Algonquin are left. They live in about 10 communities, often enduring abject poverty and human rights abuses. These Aboriginal people are suffering the threat to their very existence in silence. Richard Desjardins and Robert Monderie have decided to sound the alarm before it's too late.
This short film introduces us to Sébastien Aubin, a French-speaking member of Manitoba's Opaskwayak Cree Nation. He works as a graphic artist for a living, but he's embarked on a personal spiritual and identity quest on the side. Attempting to transcend the material world, he's apprenticing in traditional Indigenous medicine with healer Mark Thompson. The relationship between the two figures marks the contrast between generations; between modernity and tradition. It makes the 360-degree turn from the values of the past to those of today strikingly apparent.This documentary was made as part of the Tremplin program, with the collaboration of Radio-Canada.
In this documentary, striking political science students concerned with the democratization of their university occupy the offices of the Political Science Department at McGill University. The issue: greater student control over the hiring of faculty. The film crew lives with the students and follows their action through confusion, argument, dissent, and negotiations with faculty. The result is an intimate view of a student political action.
This documentary focuses on the goose hunt, a ritual of central importance to the Cree people of the James Bay coastal areas. Not only a source of food, the hunt is also used to transfer Cree culture, skills, and ethics to future generations. Filmmaker Paul M. Rickard invites us along with his own family on a fall goose hunt, so that we can share in the experience.