Follow filmmaker Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers as she creates an intimate portrait of her community and the impacts of the substance use and overdose epidemic. Witness the change brought by community members with substance-use disorder, first responders and medical professionals as they strive for harm reduction in the Kainai First Nation.
Mary Two-Axe Earley: I Am Indian Again shares the powerful story of Mary Two-Axe Earley, who fought for more than two decades to challenge sex discrimination against First Nations women embedded in Canada’s Indian Act and became a key figure in Canada’s women’s rights movement.
Using never-before-seen archival footage and audio recordings, Mohawk filmmaker Courtney Montour engages in a deeply personal conversation with the late Mohawk woman who challenged sexist and genocidal government policies that stripped First Nations women and children of their Indian status when they married non-Indian men.
Montour speaks with Cree activist Nellie Carlson, Mary’s lifelong friend and co-founder of Indian Rights for Indian Women, and meets with three generations in Mary’s kitchen in Kahnawà:ke to honour the legacy of a woman who galvanized a national network of allies to help restore Indian status to thousands of First Nations women and children.
As the Chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Senator Murray Sinclair was a key figure in raising global awareness of the atrocities of Canada’s residential school system. With determination, wisdom and kindness, Senator Sinclair remains steadfast in his belief that the path to actual reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people requires understanding and accepting often difficult truths about Canada’s past and present. Alanis Obomsawin shares the powerful speech the Senator gave when he accepted the WFM-Canada World Peace Award, interspersing the heartbreaking testimonies of former students imprisoned at residential schools. The honouring of Senator Sinclair reminds us to honour the lives and legacies of the tens of thousands of Indigenous children taken from their homes and cultures, and leaves us with a profound feeling of hope for a better future.
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.
The rights of First Nations children take centre stage in this monumental documentary. Following a historic court case filed by the Assembly of First Nations and the Child and Family Caring Society of Canada against the federal government, Alanis Obomsawin exposes generations of injustices endured by First Nations children living on reserves and their families. Through passionate testimony and unwavering conviction, frontline childcare workers and experts including Cindy Blackstock take part in a decade-long court battle to ensure these children receive the same level of care as other Canadian children. Their case against Canada is a stark reminder of the disparities that persist in First Nations communities and the urgent need for justice to be served.
As the global pandemic reaches into the Arctic Archipelago, Inuk filmmaker Carol Kunnuk documents how unfamiliar new protocols affect her family and community. Her vividly specific soundtrack juxtaposes snippets from local radio broadcasts, issuing health advisories in both Inuktitut and English, with the sweet sounds of children at play. A richly detailed and tender account of disruption and adjustment.
The people of the Attawapiskat First Nation, a Cree community in northern Ontario, were thrust into the national spotlight in 2012 when the impoverished living conditions on their reserve became an issue of national debate. With The People of the Kattawapiskak River, Abenaki director Alanis Obomsawin quietly attends as community members tell their own story, shedding light on a history of dispossession and official indifference. “Obomsawin’s main objective is to make us see the people of Attawapiskat differently,” said Robert Everett-Green in The Globe & Mail. “The emphasis, ultimately, is not so much on looking as on listening—the first stage in changing the conversation, or in making one possible.” Winner of the 2013 Donald Brittain Award for Best Social/Political Documentary, the film is part of a cycle of films that Obomsawin has made on children’s welfare and rights.
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.
Kamala Todd's short film is a lyrical portrait of Cease Wyss, of the Squamish Nation. Wyss is a woman who understands the remarkable healing powers of the plants growing all over downtown Vancouver. Whether it's the secret curl of a fiddlehead, or the gentleness of comfrey, plants carry ageless wisdom with them, communicated through colour, texture, and form. Wyss has been listening to this unspoken language and is now passing this ancient and intimate connection down to her own daughter, Senaqwila.
Alanis Obomsawin's 52nd film tells the story of how the life of Jordan River Anderson initiated a battle for the right of First Nations and Inuit children to receive the same standard of social, health and educational services as the rest of the Canadian population.
This feature-length documentary from Inuvialuit filmmaker Dennis Allen is an emotional and revealing exploration of addiction among Indigenous people in Canada.After years of struggle and shame, 5 Indigenous Canadians bravely come forward with their stories of substance abuse, presenting the sensitive topic of alcoholism in an honest and forthright manner. Alex, Paula, Desirae, Stephen, and Dennis himself maintain a deep and devoted commitment to their traditional culture to achieve long-term sobriety. Through their voices, this insightful doc offers an inspirational beacon of hope for others.
Covering a vast swath of northern Ontario, Treaty No. 9 reflects the often contradictory interpretations of treaties between First Nations and the Crown. To the Canadian government, this treaty represents a surrendering of Indigenous sovereignty, while the descendants of the Cree signatories contend its original purpose to share the land and its resources has been misunderstood and not upheld. Enlightening as it is entertaining, Trick or Treaty? succinctly and powerfully portrays one community’s attempts to enforce their treaty rights and protect their lands, while also revealing the complexities of contemporary treaty agreements. Trick or Treaty? made history as the first film by an Indigenous filmmaker to be part of the Masters section at TIFF when it screened there in 2014.