This film profiles a number of Mi’kmaq and Maliseet artists from Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, showing their similarities and differences, samples of their work and the sources of their inspiration. It offers a remarkable look at Indigenous art and spirituality in Atlantic Canada.
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.
In this revealing study of Norval Morrisseau, filmed as he works among the lakes and woodlands of his ancestors, we see a remarkable Indigenous artist who emerged from a life of obscurity in the North American bush to become one of Canada's most renowned painters. Morrisseau the man is much like his paintings: vital and passionate, torn between his Ojibway heritage and the influences of the white man's world. Jack Pollock, the Toronto art gallery owner who discovered Morrisseau's paintings in the early 1960s, comments on what makes them so unique.
This animated short, inspired by the Mi'kmaq legend "The Stone Canoe" explores Indigenous humour. We follow Little Thunder as he reluctantly leaves his family and sets out on a cross-country canoe trip to become a man.Vistas is a series of 13 short films on nationhood from 13 Indigenous filmmakers from Halifax to Vancouver. It was a collaborative project between the NFB and APTN to bring Indigenous perspectives and stories to an international audience.
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.
Combining archival photos with new and found footage, this short film presents a personal, impressionistic rendering of what it's like growing up Mi'kmaq in Newfoundland, while living in a culture of denial.Vistas is a series of 13 short films on nationhood from 13 Indigenous filmmakers from Halifax to Vancouver. It was a collaborative project between the NFB and APTN to bring Indigenous perspectives and stories to an international audience.
This documentary follows Haida artist Bill Reid, from British Columbia. A jeweller and wood carver, he works on a traditional Haida totem pole. We watch the gradual transformation of a bare cedar trunk into a richly carved pole to stand on the shores of the town of Skidegate, in the Queen Charlotte Islands of B.C.
When internationally renowned Haida carver Robert Davidson was only 22 years old, he carved the first new totem pole on British Columbia’s Haida Gwaii in almost a century. On the 50th anniversary of the pole’s raising, Haida filmmaker Christopher Auchter steps easily through history to revisit that day in August 1969, when the entire village of Old Massett gathered to celebrate the event that would signal the rebirth of the Haida spirit.
This short animation tells the tale of the great spirit Glooscap and how he battled with the giant Winter in order to bring Summer to the North and the Mi'kmaq people. Silas T. Rand, a Canadian Baptist clergyman and ethnographer, and Charles Leland, an American humorist and folklorist, first recorded the legend of Glooscap at the end of the 19th century. Since then, the legend has been retold many times, but never more beautifully than in this colourful animated interpretation.
This documentary, by filmmaker Carol Geddes, is a unique portrait of George Johnston, a photographer who was himself a creator of portraits and a keeper of his culture. Johnston cared deeply about the traditions of the Tlingit people, and he recorded a critical period in the history of the Tlingit nation. As Geddes says, his legacy was "to help us dream the future as much as to remember the past."
This feature-length documentary traces the journey of the Haisla people to reclaim the G'psgolox totem pole that went missing from their British Columbia village in 1929. The fate of the 19th century traditional mortuary pole remained unknown for over 60 years until it was discovered in a Stockholm museum where it is considered state property by the Swedish government.Director Gil Cardinal combines interviews, striking imagery and rare footage of master carvers to raise questions about ownership and the meaning of Indigenous objects held in museums.
This short documentary serves as a portrait of Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptun, one of Canada's most important painters. We meet him at the Bisley Rifle Range in Surrey, England, where he's literally shooting the Indian Act in a performance piece called "An Indian Shooting the Indian Act." It's in protest of the ongoing effects of the Act's legislation on Indigenous people. We then follow him back to Canada, for interviews with the artist and a closer look at his work.
Ages 12 to 16
Study Guide - Guide 1
Indigenous Studies - Arts
Indigenous Studies - Identity/Society
What is the cultural significance of natural materials (sealskin, sweetgrass for baskets, porcupine quills) in Indigenous art? Describe the cultural elements found in the various art forms depicted. Show how an understanding of forms of Indigenous art reflects cultural identity. Identify the main characteristics of Mi’kmaq and Maliseet art. Ask students to suggest natural materials that could be used to create a work of art.