Cree Hunters of Mistassini

Cree Hunters of Mistassini


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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.

Like The Ballad of Crowfoot before it, Cree Hunters of Mistassini ranks among the most popular and widely screened films from the CFC/SN program. Unlike the earlier film, however, the Indian Film Crew was not responsible for the production. Directed by Montreal journalist Boyce Richardson and shot by Tony Ianzelo, the film (one in a series on the subject of Aboriginal culture and politics directed or produced by Richardson and Ianzelo) represents a form of advocacy: It presents a Cree point of view and gives voice to Cree concerns, but it is not an exercise in self-representation. Michelle Stewart writes, "The circumstances of the production of Cree Hunters in a period of budget retrenchment and political uncertainty reveal the commitment of certain CFC members to Aboriginal rights and representation in the 1970s, although NFB filmmakers and management had frequent disagreements over which styles and strategies would be most politically effective." Cree Hunters departs from the Fogo process-inspired VTR experiments of the first wave of CFC/SN in terms of the polish and rigorous formal style of its day-in-the-life-of-the-Cree portrait, but is unequivocal in its presentation of a Cree perspective on a proposed Hydro-Québec project in the James Bay region.

Thomas Waugh, Ezra Winton, Michael Baker
From the playlist: Challenge for Change

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Cree Hunters of Mistassini, Boyce Richardson & Tony Ianzelo, provided by the National Film Board of Canada

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  • director
    Boyce Richardson
    Tony Ianzelo
  • producer
    Colin Low
  • executive producer
    Len Chatwin
  • script
    Boyce Richardson
  • narrator
    Boyce Richardson
  • photography
    Tony Ianzelo
  • sound
    Richard Besse
    Jean Guy Normandin
  • editing
    Ginny Stikeman
  • sound editing
    John Knight
  • re-recording
    Michel Descombes
    Claude Delorme

  • Bob

    I was very fortunate to have been canoe tripping in the late 60's when our camp hired Cree hunters as guides. This was before Hydro Quebec had made many inroads on dams and Nemiscau Post was still extant. Our respective guides for '68 Broadback River and '69 Mistissibi River were Mathew Neeposh and Charlot Gunner. I spent both summers in complete awe of their bush skills & canoe handling - trying to emulate them - of course unsuccessfully for the most part! Now I am old but the images will be with me forever. Wonderful film this.

    Bob, 13 Jan 2023
  • Stephen F.

    I really enjoyed watching this film. I found it educational and heartwarming to see these people making a life for themselves in the wilderness. I wonder how many people are able to partially support themselves by living part-time off the land today?

    Stephen F., 8 Feb 2020
  • angelabigstone

    I loved this video! I will definitely show it to my own children and my students at school. There are a lot of similarities in Northern Quebec Cree and us Northern Alberta Cree. This video is so empowering!

    angelabigstone, 7 Oct 2017
  • ingrasp

    The film is captivating - it quietly celebrates the hunting camp life and sustainable practices of the Cree heritage. It's also about human community and the joys of extended family bonds. It's a moving tribute to an unassuming approach to cooperative living that honors the collective and the individual through mutual respect and an admirable reverence for nature. Thanks for sharing this wonderful film and historical document.

    ingrasp, 27 Jan 2017
  • ehajdu70

    I really enjoyed watching this film..thank you.

    ehajdu70, 9 Sep 2016
  • MCC

    I really enjoyed seeing this film. I had recently read 'Strangers Devour The Land' by Boyce Richardson (a recommendation from Bill Mason's Song of The Paddle book) and so was delighted to stumble across this film here on the NFBC website, as it features some of the main characters and visually shows some of what was described in the book. The book goes much further though and documents the epic fight to prevent the flooding of the Cree land by the Canadian Government. It was a fight that was ultimately lost, spelling the end of the way of life depicted here. If you enjoyed the film and want to learn more, I can highly recommend the book.

    MCC, 5 Aug 2015
  • sixam

    Anybody else notice there was a cat with them in the lodge? I wonder if they brought most of their supplies by plane. I doubt they transported the stove on a toboggan.

    sixam, 5 Jan 2014
  • starlight

    Just after my arrival in Montreal from London in 1966, I was invited by a friend and neighbour to accompany him and his young son on a 600 mile drive to Lake Mistassini for a week of September fishing. We arrived late at night in a cold rain and setup our tent assisted by two Cree children who knew my friend from previous trips. They camp for some bacon which they ate raw for the fat content I was told and companionship. This was my first introduction to the aboriginal people of Canada and to the far north. We arose at dawn every morning drank our Turkish coffee and set-out across this vast lake dotted with islands sometimes for two hours to get to the prime fishing areas. It is a true wilderness area and returning at dusk in the evening the stars and moon appeared very bright and large in the sky. Navigation, map reading and survival skills were a prerequisite for such travel in those days before cell phones. The memories of that trip will stay with me forever and I am indebted to my friend who was a chemistry professor at the University of Montreal, much traveled and a great cook.

    starlight, 13 Dec 2013
  • curioushu

    I very much enjoyed the film except that i do not comprehend the lack of concern when harvesting moose,that rather than harvest the young animals they shot all four including the pregnant cow.If you kill the bull and cow your breeders are gone. i thought that killing the pragnant cow was especially short sighted and ignorant,concerning conservation. I am a hunter and i do not believe in trophy hunting but will take a young bull or cow if i have the choice.No hen no cock,no eggs!

    curioushu, 16 Sep 2013
  • Coventry

    The task of building their shelter together Coventry. Watching this documentary was awesome creating harmony,and developing longevity the food from the earth,much city dwellers can grasp.Nickietlchealthservices

    Coventry, 21 Feb 2012
  • Coventry

    The task of building their shelter together Is awesome creating harmony,and developing longevity the food from the earth,much city dwellers can grasp.Nickietlchealthservices

    Coventry, 21 Feb 2012
  • curtjackson

    Fantastic information, even though this film is a part of my Anthropology class, I have watched it numerous times since sheerly for the manner in which it mesmerizes me. Excellent portrayal of the modern hunter/gatherer, and a testament to a minimalist lifestyle.

    curtjackson, 3 Feb 2011
  • TahltanMan

    Wonderful documentary. I can't wait to watch this with my grandfather who grew up on the trapline.

    TahltanMan, 15 Jan 2011
  • paull6

    bravo et félicitation, un excellent reportage, rare, historique et éducatif; notre société moderne aurait énormément intérêt à apprendre de eux; j'ai personnellement rencontrer une famille en 1978 lors de mon passage de 6 moi à Nitchequon et j'ai un grand respect pour eux. Paul. Merci.

    paull6, 23 Jul 2010

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