It's high summer in southern Saskatchewan and a rollicking tune fills the night. Four master Metis fiddlers play to the tapping toes of a lively crowd.
How the Fiddle Flows follows Canada's great rivers west along the fur-trading route of the early Europeans. The newcomers introduced the fiddle to the Aboriginal people they intermarried with along the way. A generation later, their mixed-blood offspring would blend European folk tunes with First Nations rhythms to create a rich and distinct musical tradition.
From the Gaspé Peninsula, north to Hudson Bay and to the Prairies, How the Fiddle Flows reveals how a distinctive Metis identity and culture were shaped over time. Featuring soaring performances by some of Canada's best known fiddlers and step dancers and narrated by award-winning actress Tantoo Cardinal.
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 documentary shows how a canoe is built the old way. César Newashish, a 67-year-old Atikamekw of the Manawan Reserve north of Montreal, uses only birchbark, cedar splints, spruce roots and gum. Building a canoe solely from the materials that the forest provides may become a lost art, even among the Indigenous peoples whose traditional craft it is. The film is without commentary but text frames appear on the screen in Cree, French and English.
In this deeply moving feature-length documentary, three sisters and a brother meet for the first time. Removed from their young Dene mother during the infamous Sixties Scoop, they were separated as infants and adopted into families across North America.Betty Ann, Esther, Rosalie, and Ben were only four of the 20,000 Indigenous Canadian children taken from their families between 1955 and 1985, to be either adopted into white families or live in foster care. As the four siblings piece together their shared history, their connection deepens, and their family begins to take shape.
On August 9, 2016, a young Cree man named Colten Boushie died from a gunshot to the back of his head after entering Gerald Stanley’s rural property with his friends. The jury’s subsequent acquittal of Stanley captured international attention, raising questions about racism embedded within Canada’s legal system and propelling Colten’s family to national and international stages in their pursuit of justice. Sensitively directed by Tasha Hubbard, nîpawistamâsowin: We Will Stand Up weaves a profound narrative encompassing the filmmaker’s own adoption, the stark history of colonialism on the Prairies, and a vision of a future where Indigenous children can live safely on their homelands.
In this feature-length documentary by Alanis Obomsawin, it's the summer of 2000 and the country watches in disbelief as federal fisheries wage war on the Mi'kmaq fishermen of Burnt Church, New Brunswick. Why would officials of the Canadian government attack citizens for exercising rights that had been affirmed by the highest court in the land? Casting her cinematic and intellectual nets into history to provide context, Obomsawin delineates the complex roots of the conflict with passion and clarity, building a persuasive defence of the Mi'kmaq position.
This animated short tells the story of a ferocious polar bear turned to stone by an Inuk shaman. The tale is based on emerging filmmaker Echo Henoche's favourite legend, as told to her by her grandfather in her home community of Nain, Nunatsiavut, on Labrador's North Coast. Hand-drawn and painted by Henoche in a style all her own, Shaman is the first collaboration between the Labrador artist and the NFB.
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
In this short film, Inuk artist Asinnajaq plunges us into a sublime imaginary universe—14 minutes of luminescent, archive-inspired cinema that recast the present, past and future of her people in a radiant new light.Diving into the NFB’s vast archive, she parses the complicated cinematic representation of the Inuit, harvesting fleeting truths and fortuitous accidents from a range of sources—newsreels, propaganda, ethnographic docs, and work by Indigenous filmmakers. Embedding historic footage into original animation, she conjures up a vision of hope and beautiful possibility.
This short film offers a snap-shot of life in Fort Frances, Ontario, as some of its community members prepare to gather in a special place that will bond their hearts and minds. By engaging in ceremony and celebrating their language, culture and land, the people are creating “Zaagi’idiwin”—a symbol of their truth, their story and their own reconciliation, which is community-defined, beautiful and inspiring.
This short documentary serves as a quiet elegy for a way of life, which exists now only in the memories of those who experienced it. Bonnie Ammaaq and her family remember it vividly. When Bonnie was a little girl, her parents packed up their essentials, bundled her and her younger brother onto a long, fur-lined sled and left the government-manufactured community of Igloolik to live off the land, as had generations of Inuit before them.
In this feature documentary, filmmaker René Siouï Labelle retraces the path of his ancestors and surveys their territories, recording images of stunning beauty. He unveils a historical journey known to very few as he reflects upon the identity of the Wendat nation. In French with English subtitles.