This animated short tells the story of Edouard Beaupré, a.k.a. the Willow Bunch Giant. At 2.5 m (8’ 3”), he was the tallest Canadian in history. Born in 1881 in a small Métis community south of Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, his life was tragically cut short in 1904 while he was “on display” at the St. Louis World’s Fair.
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.
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.”
Released in 1968 and often referred to as Canada’s first music video, The Ballad of Crowfoot was directed by Willie Dunn, a Mi’kmaq/Scottish folk singer and activist who was part of the historic Indian Film Crew, the first all-Indigenous production unit at the NFB. The film is a powerful look at colonial betrayals, told through a striking montage of archival images and a ballad composed by Dunn himself about the legendary 19th-century Siksika (Blackfoot) chief who negotiated Treaty 7 on behalf of the Blackfoot Confederacy. The IFC’s inaugural release, Crowfoot was the first Indigenous-directed film to be made at the NFB.
This very short film from the Canada Vignettes series documents the annual pilgrimage that members of Saskatchewan’s Métis Catholic community make to St. Laurent, a village in the Duck Lake area that became the Métis nation’s spiritual centre at the time of the 1885 Northwest Rebellion.
Part of the Daughters of the Country series, this dramatic film set in 1929 depicts how Canada's West, home to generations of Métis, was taken over by the railroads and new settlers. As a result, the Métis became a forgotten people, forced to eke out a living as best they could. At the forefront is Rose, a woman determined to provide her children with a normal life and an education despite the odds. But due to their harsh circumstances, a devastating and traumatic event transpires instead.
This short documentary by Colin Low is an invitation to a gathering of the Káínaa of Alberta - as the Sun Dance is captured on film for the first time. The film shows how the theme of the circle reflects the bands' connection to wildlife and also addresses the predicament of the young generation, those who have relinquished their ties with their own culture but have not yet found a firm place in a changing world.
Pete Standing Alone of the Kainai Nation was more at home in the White man's culture than his own as a young man. However, confronted with the realization that his children knew very little about their origins, he became determined to pass down to them the customs and traditions of his ancestors. This hour-long film is the powerful biographical study of a twenty-five-year span in Pete's life, from his early days as an oil-rig roughneck, rodeo rider and cowboy, to the present as an Indigenous man concerned with preserving his Nation's spiritual heritage in the face of an energy-oriented industrial age.
This feature-length documentary explores the diabetes epidemic within Indigenous communities in Canada. Ojibway filmmaker Brion Whitford lives with the pain of advanced diabetes, but shunned traditional Indigenous medicine and healing practices. But as his health deteriorated, he had a change of heart. Join Brion as he connects with his culture, comes to grips with his own mortality, and tries to re-establish balance in his life.
Tahani Rached’s powerful documentary enters the doors of an AIDS clinic in Montreal. We meet a group of dedicated doctors struggling to provide health care to their patients. This 1994 film explores legal and ethical problems surrounding HIV/AIDS and the struggle against fear, rumours and prejudice. It is still relevant today. In French with English subtitles.
Far from home and cut off from family and friends, Montreal’s Indigenous homeless population is the focus of No Address. Dreams of a better life in the big city can be met with harsh realities, as the individuals in this documentary recount. Often trying to flee circumstances created by colonialism and the effects of assimilation, the First Nations and Inuit people in this work share frank stories about their lives and the paths that took them to the streets of Montreal. Alanis Obomsawin presents an honest, stark portrayal of endemic homelessness while giving voice to those so often overlooked or made invisible on the streets of every city in Canada.
Ages 10 to 18
Study Guide - Guide 1
Civics/Citizenship - Human Rights
Ethics and Religious Culture - Ethical Values
Indigenous Studies - History/Politics
Warnings: Photographic image of Beaupré’s dead body on display.
In this animated short, we are introduced to Edouard Beaupré, “The Giant.” He was a Métis man from rural Saskatchewan who grew to be 2.5 m (8’ 3”) tall. Beaupré died at the St. Louis World Fair as a young man, part of a side show. Students can compare their own height to Beaupré’s and discuss the implications of being that tall in their daily life. Students could do research about side shows and the impact they have on society. Students could also explore what happened to Beaupré’s body after his death, and they could discuss the ethics of the actions taken.