Shot over two years, Mohawk Girls provides a surprising inside look at modern Indigenous youth culture. Deeply emotional yet unsentimental, it reveals the hope, despair, heartache and promise of growing up Indigenous at the beginning of the 21st century.
This documentary is an inquiry into what came to be known as Saskatoon's infamous "freezing deaths," and the schism between a fearful, mistrustful Indigenous community and a police force harbouring a harrowing secret.One frigid night in January 2000 Darrell Night, an Indigenous man was dumped by two police officers in -20° C temperatures in a barren field on the city outskirts. He survives the ordeal but is stunned to hear that the frozen body of another Indigenous man was discovered in the same area. Days later, another victim, also Native, is found. When Night comes forward with his story, he sets into motion a chain of events: a major RCMP investigation into several suspicious deaths, the conviction of the two constables who abandoned him and the reopening of an old case, leading to a judicial inquiry.
This short documentary by Colin Low is an invitation to a gathering of the Káínaa of Alberta - as the Sun Dance is captured on film for the first time. The film shows how the theme of the circle reflects the bands' connection to wildlife and also addresses the predicament of the young generation, those who have relinquished their ties with their own culture but have not yet found a firm place in a changing world.
Pete Standing Alone of the Kainai Nation was more at home in the White man's culture than his own as a young man. However, confronted with the realization that his children knew very little about their origins, he became determined to pass down to them the customs and traditions of his ancestors. This hour-long film is the powerful biographical study of a twenty-five-year span in Pete's life, from his early days as an oil-rig roughneck, rodeo rider and cowboy, to the present as an Indigenous man concerned with preserving his Nation's spiritual heritage in the face of an energy-oriented industrial age.
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.
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.
Also available on the Alanis Obomsawin, A Legacy DVD box set
A tribute to Indigenous women everywhere, this short documentary focuses on 5 women from across Canada. Of varied ages and backgrounds, they have achieved success in a variety of careers: as the Yukon legislature's first Indigenous woman minister (Margaret Joe), as a deck hand on a fishing boat (Corinne Hunt), as a teacher (Sophie MacLeod), as a lawyer (Roberta Jamieson), and as a band council chief (Sophie May Pierre - St. Mary’s Indian Band of the Ktunaxa Nation off the Ktunaxa Nation).Each of these women talks about how she got to where she is today while emphasizing the importance of Indigenous culture - its values, art, and spiritual beliefs - in helping her to develop a sense of self and seeing through rough times, including residential school experiences.
Online release: November 30, 2012 The Algonquin once lived in harmony with the vast territory they occupied. This balance was upset when the Europeans arrived in the 16th century. Gradually, their Aboriginal traditions were undermined and their natural resources plundered. Today, barely 9,000 Algonquin are left. They live in about 10 communities, often enduring abject poverty and human rights abuses. These Aboriginal people are suffering the threat to their very existence in silence. Richard Desjardins and Robert Monderie have decided to sound the alarm before it's too late.
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.
Also available on the Alanis Obomsawin, A Legacy DVD box set
Far from home and cut off from family and friends, Montreal’s Indigenous homeless population is the focus of No Address. Dreams of a better life in the big city can be met with harsh realities, as the individuals in this documentary recount. Often trying to flee circumstances created by colonialism and the effects of assimilation, the First Nations and Inuit people in this work share frank stories about their lives and the paths that took them to the streets of Montreal. Alanis Obomsawin presents an honest, stark portrayal of endemic homelessness while giving voice to those so often overlooked or made invisible on the streets of every city in Canada.
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.
Acclaimed Métis filmmaker Christine Welsh brings us a compelling documentary that puts a human face on a national tragedy – the epidemic of missing or murdered Indigenous women in Canada. The film takes a journey into the heart of Indigenous women's experience, from Vancouver's skid row, down the Highway of Tears in northern BC, and on to Saskatoon, where the murders and disappearances of these women remain unsolved.