This short documentary by celebrated filmmaker Alanis Obomsawin is a portrait of Eugene "Gene Boy" (pronounced Genie Boy) Benedict, from Odanak Indian Reserve (near Montreal, Quebec). At 17, he enlisted in the US Marines and was sent to the frontlines of the Vietnam War. This film is the account of his 2 years of service and his long journey back to Odanak afterwards.
This short documentary tells the story of Tony Chachai, a young Indigenous man in search of his identity. Moved by the desire to reconnect with his Atikamekw roots, he delivers a touching testimony on the journey that brought him closer to his family and community. On the verge of becoming a father himself, he becomes increasingly aware of the richness of his heritage and celebrates it by dancing in a powwow.This film was produced as part of Tremplin NIKANIK, a competition for francophone First Nations filmmakers in Quebec.
Released in 1969, These Are My People… was the first NFB film made entirely by an Indigenous crew. It was co-directed by Roy Daniels, Willie Dunn, Michael Kanentakeron Mitchell and Barbara Wilson—members of the Indian Film Crew (IFC), an all-Indigenous unit established in 1968 as part of Challenge for Change, a broader organizational initiative to use media to effect social change. One of the first Canadian documentaries to foreground an Indigenous perspective on the history of Indigenous–settler relations, it features Standing Arrow and Tom Porter, from the Kanien’kéhaka (Mohawk) community of Akwesasne, who discuss longhouse religion, culture, government and the impacts of settler arrival on their way of life.
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.
Our People Will Be Healed, Alanis Obomsawin’s 50th film, reveals how a Cree community in Manitoba has been enriched through the power of education. The Helen Betty Osborne Ininiw Education Resource Centre in Norway House, north of Winnipeg, receives a level of funding that few other Indigenous institutions enjoy. Its teachers help their students to develop their abilities and their sense of pride.
Also available on the Alanis Obomsawin: A Legacy DVD box set
This documentary introduces us to thousands of Indigenous Canadians who enlisted and fought alongside their countrymen and women during World War II, even though they could not be conscripted. Ironically, while they fought for the freedom of others, they were being denied equality in their own country and returned home to find their land seized.Loretta Todd's poignant film offers forth the testimony of those who were there, and how they managed to heal.
In July 1990, a dispute over a proposed golf course to be built on Kanien’kéhaka (Mohawk) lands in Oka, Quebec, set the stage for a historic confrontation that would grab international headlines and sear itself into the Canadian consciousness. Director Alanis Obomsawin—at times with a small crew, at times alone—spent 78 days behind Kanien’kéhaka lines filming the armed standoff between protestors, the Quebec police and the Canadian army. Released in 1993, this landmark documentary has been seen around the world, winning over a dozen international awards and making history at the Toronto International Film Festival, where it became the first documentary ever to win the Best Canadian Feature award. Jesse Wente, Director of Canada’s Indigenous Screen Office, has called it a “watershed film in the history of First Peoples cinema.”
Long before Canada became a country, every nation on Turtle Island had its own unique version of a stick-ball game. The most popular one on this continent has always been lacrosse, a game that was gifted to the First Nations by the birds and four-legged animals, and played for centuries as a medicine game. This short film explores how the medicine game that has been passed down from generation to generation by the Haudenasaunee at the Fort Erie Native Friendship Centre is helping to revive their cultures and restore their communities. Young people have always been at the centre of community for many First Nations societies, and this documentary shares the wisdom of cultivating the spirit of belonging in youth, revealing how this is helping to shape a new future.
This animated short tells the story of Maq, a Mi'kmaq boy who realizes his potential with the help of inconspicuous mentors. When an elder in the community offers him a small piece of pipestone, Maq carves a little person out of it. Proud of his work, the boy wants to impress his grandfather and journeys through the woods to find him. Along the path Maq meets a curious traveller named Mi'gmwesu. Together they share stories, medicine, laughter, and song. Maq begins to care less about making a good impression and more about sharing the knowledge and spirit he's found through his creation. Part of the Talespinners collection, which uses vibrant animation to bring popular children's stories from a wide range of cultural communities to the screen.
This short experimental documentary challenges stereotypes about Indigenous people in the workplace. Featuring portraits set to a powerful poem by Mohawk writer Janet Marie Rogers, the film urges viewers to go beyond their preconceived notions. As I Am is a celebration of Indigenous people's pride in their work and culture. This film is part of the Work For All series, produced by the National Film Board of Canada, with the participation of Human Resources and Skills Development Canada.
This short documentary by Alanis Obomsawin tells the story of Kahentiiosta, a young Kahnawake Mohawk woman arrested after the Oka Crisis' 78-day armed standoff in 1990. She was detained 4 days longer than the other women. Her crime? The prosecutor representing the Quebec government did not accept her Indigenous name.
Ages 15 to 16
History - World History
Indigenous Studies - History/Politics
This film is relevant because of its focus on two great historical taboos: the situation of Aboriginal peoples in Canada, and the Vietnam War. Teachers may want to screen the first few minutes of the film to illustrate more concretely the situation of Native peoples at the turn of the 20th century in Canada. Teachers of courses that cover the Vietnam War can make use of the archival footage in the film as a visual aid.