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.
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.”
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.
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.
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: Skonkwehón:we Á:re kaká:raton ne Mary Two-Axe Earley akoká:ra, ísi’ nón: ne teiohseráhsen iakohskehnhà:’on taié:tahste’ tsi shakotikenhrón:nis konnonkwehón:we né:ne í:kare’ Kakoráhsera’ aoianerénhsera’ Indian Act nok tsi wa’ehsennowáhnha’ né: Canada’s women’s rights movement.
Né:ne iah nonwén:ton ónhka teiakotkáhthon kí:ken wateweièn:ton karahstánion nok kawennarahstánion wátston, Ienien’kehá:ka iekararáhstha’ Courtney Mountor teiotíhthare’ ne Ienien’kehá:ka iakonkwe’kénha né:ne iakohskehnhà’:on taié:tahste’ tsi shakotikenhrón:nis tsonathonwí:sen nok Kakoráhsera’ tsi nihotiianerenhserò:ten’ tsi ronte’niéntha’ ahonwanáhton’te’ nonkwehón:we. Nè:’e arihón:ni wahónhton’te’ ne onkwehón:we ahontatena’tónhkhwake’ ne konnonkwehón:we nok ronwatiien’okòn:’a tsi wahotíniake’ ne iah tehonnonkwehón:we.
Montour teiotíhthare’ Iehrhakón:ha iakorihwahskéhnhen Nellie Carlson, ne Mary akwáh ákta tsi ionátshi tánon’ iakotahsnié:nen tsi tionatáhsawe’ ne Indian Rights for Indian Women, nok áhsen nikahwatsiratátie’ tehonatátken ne Mary tsi iekhonnià:tha’ ne Kahnawà:ke, né: ká:ti’ ahshakotihsennakará:tate’ ní:kon iakoterihwakanonnì:’on tsi tiakotenenhratáhsawe’ aontahontén:rohwe’ akaia’takehnhahtsherénhawe’ aonsonteríhsi’ tsi rotirihón:ni ne tóhsa ahontatena’tónhkhwake’ onkwehón:we ne ioshentsheró:ton nihá:ti konnonkwehón:we nok ronwatiien’okòn:’a.
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 short documentary offers a portrait of a group of women who led their community, the largest reserve in Canada, Six Nations of the Grand River Reserve, in an historic blockade to protect their land.On February 28, 2006, members of the Iroquois Confederacy blockaded a highway near Caledonia, Ontario to prevent a housing development on land that falls within their traditional territories. The ensuing confrontation made national headlines for months. Less well-known is the crucial role of the clan mothers of the community who set the rules for conduct. When the community's chiefs ask people to abandon the barricades, it is the clan mothers who overrule them, leading a cultural reawakening in their traditionally matriarchal community.
Stories of resistance, strength and perseverance are laid bare in this examination of a dark day in Canadian history. At the height of tensions at Oka, Quebec, in 1990, Kanien’kehá:ka (Mohawk) women, children and Elders fled their community of Kahnawake out of fear for their safety. Once past the Canadian Army that surrounded their home, they were assaulted by angry non-Indigenous protesters who pelted their convoy with rocks. This visceral display of hatred and violence – rarely seen so publicly in Canada – shocked the nation and revealed the severity of the dangers that faced the Kanien’kehá:ka in their struggle to defend a sacred site.
This film is the fourth in Alanis Obomsawin’s landmark series on the Mohawk resistance at Oka that would become a pivot point in contemporary relationships between Indigenous nations and Canada.
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.
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.
In this feature-length documentary, Alanis Obomsawin tells the story of Shannen’s Dream, a national campaign to provide equitable access to education in safe and suitable schools for First Nations children. Strong participation in this initiative eventually brings Shannen's Dream all the way to the United Nations in Geneva.
Ages 14 to 18
Study Guide - Guide 1
Civics/Citizenship - Human Rights
Indigenous Studies - History/Politics
Indigenous Studies - Identity/Society
This study guide will guide students in discussing and reflecting on the injustices and discrimination that the Indian Act has created for First Nations women. Students will also begin to consider how the injustices have a long-term impact on the lives of Indigenous women and girls. What it means to be an Indigenous person will also be reflected on. After watching this film, students should be able to identify and define Mary Two-Axe Earley as a leader of the Canadian women’s rights movement who challenged Canadian laws that discriminated against First Nations women. A follow-up action includes an activity that describes, illustrates, appreciates and honours Mary Two-Axe Earley’s contribution and legacy.