The story of the Jesuit martyrs who lived with the Wendat converts in the region near what is now Midland, Ontario. The film is of wide interest since it reconstructs a period of Canadian history, especially of Indigenous life, at the very beginning of European settlement. The village and the Jesuits' buildings are exact models from archeologists' reconstructions. The story is based on the Jesuit Relations, the actual journals of mission life that still make for thrilling reading.
(Please note that Mission of Fear was produced in 1965 and reflects the attitudes and thinking of its era. To modern audiences, parts of the film may be perceived as offensive, but it must be seen as a cultural product of the era in which it was produced. The perspectives of Canadians (and the NFB) have evolved and become more conscious of Indigenous rights, realities and points of view since the making of the film. Through its rich collection of Indigenous-made films, available at Indigenous Cinema, the NFB continues to strive to challenge stereotypes about Indigenous people and accurately depict the diverse experiences of Indigenous communities. )
Part of the Daughters of the Country series, this dramatic film features a young Ojibwa girl from 1770 who marries a Scottish fur trader and leaves home for the shores of Georgian Bay. Although the union is beneficial for her tribe, it results in hardship and isolation for Ikwe. Values and customs clash until, finally, the events of a dream Ikwe once had unfold with tragic clarity.
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.
Richard Cardinal died by his own hand at the age of 17, having spent most of his life in a string of foster homes and shelters across Alberta. In this short documentary, Abenaki director Alanis Obomsawin weaves excerpts from Richard’s diary into a powerful tribute to his short life. Released in 1984—decades before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission—the film exposed the systemic neglect and mistreatment of Indigenous children in Canada’s child welfare system. Winner of the Best Documentary Award at the 1986 American Indian Film Festival, the film screened at New York’s Museum of Modern Art in 2008 as part of an Obomsawin retrospective, and continues to be shown around the world.
This short film tells the tale of the men who drove big freighter canoes into the wilderness in the days when the fur trade was Canada's biggest business. The film recreates scenes of the early 19th century with a soundtrack by an all-male chorus.
The yellowed pages of a travel journal, a letter unearthed by chance, photographs recovered from a company's dusty archives: These are but a few of the scattered materials used to reconstruct the fascinating and little known adventure of Revillon Brothers, a Parisian merchant of elegant furs, who came to Canada at the turn of the century to enter into the fur trade. But the adventure comes to an end in 1936 when Revillon's great rival, the Hudson's Bay Company, buys out the French company. Victorious, the Hudson's Bay Company, is the only of the two to be remembered in the history books. In between the words of the few remaining witnesses to a lost history, in the memories of descendants of employees and in specialists' passion for the fragments recovered, a world long thought vanished is recreated in front of our eyes. In French with English subtitles.
This short film documents John Cabot's quest to discover a westward route across the sea to the Orient in 15th-century Europe. The resulting story is one that explores the geography of the Renaissance world as well as its social and intellectual character.
This short film was created by a group of Indigenous filmmakers at the NFB in 1972 and is essentially a song by Willie Dunn sung by Bob Charlie and illustrated by John Fadden: "Who were the ones who bid you welcome and took you by the hand, inviting you here by our campfires, as brothers we might stand?"The song expresses bitter memories of the past, of trust repaid by treachery, and of friendship debased by exploitation upon the arrival of European colonists.
Idle hours at a summer cottage, when her husband is at work and the children busy at play, give a wife time to dream a little and reflect on her life and her marriage. Is it enough? What else might she have made of herself? But then her husband returns and she opts for things as they are. A relaxed drama that has much of the mood of a summer outdoors.
Released in 1969, These Are My People… was the first NFB film made entirely by an Indigenous crew. It was co-directed by Roy Daniels, Willie Dunn, Michael Kanentakeron Mitchell and Barbara Wilson—members of the Indian Film Crew (IFC), an all-Indigenous unit established in 1968 as part of Challenge for Change, a broader organizational initiative to use media to effect social change. One of the first Canadian documentaries to foreground an Indigenous perspective on the history of Indigenous–settler relations, it features Standing Arrow and Tom Porter, from the Kanien’kéhaka (Mohawk) community of Akwesasne, who discuss longhouse religion, culture, government and the impacts of settler arrival on their way of life.
This feature-length film tells the story of the passion between Marie de l’Incarnation, a mid-seventeenth-century nun and God, her "divine spouse." Fusing documentary and acting by Marie Tifo, whom we follow as she rehearses for this demanding role, the film paints an astonishing portrait of this mystic who abandoned her son and left France to build a convent in Canada, where she became the first female writer in New France.