This short documentary from 1966 shows life in the Chipewyan community on a reserve in Northern Saskatchewan, where new ways of living don’t conflict with traditional activities. You’ll meet Moise MacIntyre, who is satisfied living along the lake with its fish and the game in the nearby woods, despite having the opportunity to leave. Free from the burden of having to succeed in the traditional sense of financial earnings, these people have created a sense of community that more than makes up for what they may otherwise lack.
This documentary from Martin Duckworth features young adults from two distinct Winnipeg neighbourhoods on either side of the Red River who struggle to overcome geographical and cultural barriers. High school students from the predominantly Indigenous North End and their peers from the Francophone district of St. Boniface work together to produce a play on the origins of the Métis.
Their collaboration raises questions about how these youths foresee their role and place within their respective communities and how these minority communities co-exist with the predominant culture. The film also tackles issues of intolerance, racism and discrimination.
This short film is an exposé on the style of fishing done by Indigenous fishermen in the Prairie provinces. The commentary is offered by a fisherman as he goes about his business. He recalls his boyhood when the men of his band freighted by canoe for the Hudson's Bay Company. He also speaks of education, of sickness and health, of family, of poverty, of the pleasures of a Saturday night dance, and he demonstrates the tricks of his own trade - when to set a net, how to handle fish, and what it all costs in money, time, equipment and skill. Commercial fishermen may learn effective measures for protecting the freshness and attractiveness of freshwater catches, while general audiences will enjoy a telling view of Indigenous life and enterprise.
This short documentary examines an innovative educational program developed by John and Gerti Murdoch to teach Cree children their language via Cree folklore, photographs, artifacts, and books that were written and printed in the community.
Made as part of the NFB’s groundbreaking Challenge for Change series, Cree Way shows that local control of the education curriculum has a place in Indigenous communities.
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 animated short tells the story of Edouard Beaupré, a.k.a. the Willow Bunch Giant. At 2.5 m (8’ 3”), he was the tallest Canadian in history. Born in 1881 in a small Métis community south of Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, his life was tragically cut short in 1904 while he was “on display” at the St. Louis World’s Fair.
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.
The Hudson’s Bay Company’s 300th-anniversary celebration in 1970 was no occasion for joy among the people whose lives were tied to the trading stores. Narrated by George Manuel, then president of the National Indian Brotherhood, this landmark film presents Indigenous perspectives on the company whose fur-trading empire drove colonization across vast tracts of land in central, western and northern Canada. There is a sharp contrast between the official celebrations, with Queen Elizabeth II among the guests, and what Indigenous people have to say about their lot in the Company’s operations. Released in 1972, the film was co-directed by Martin Defalco and Willie Dunn—a member of the historic Indian Film Crew, an all-Indigenous production unit established at the NFB in 1968.
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 documentary looks at various Indigenous spirituality programs that run in western Canadian federal penitentiaries, as well as in some provincial institutions. These programs are led by elders, with assistance from liaison officers. They include workshops, ceremonies, and other traditional methods that help put the incarcerated back in touch with themselves, their culture, and their spirituality. A unique glimpse of the lives of Indigenous inmates.
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. )
Dancing Around the Table: Part One provides a fascinating look at the crucial role Indigenous people played in shaping the Canadian Constitution. The 1984 Federal Provincial Conference of First Ministers on Aboriginal Constitutional Matters was a tumultuous and antagonistic process that pitted Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau and the First Ministers—who refused to include Indigenous inherent rights to self-government in the Constitution—against First Nations, Inuit and Métis leaders, who would not back down from this historic opportunity to enshrine Indigenous rights.In a now infamous exchange, Kwakwaka’wakw lawyer and lead negotiator Bill Wilson states that he has two children who want to become lawyers and prime minister. When he says that they are Indigenous women, the male audience bursts into laughter, and Trudeau replies, “Tell them I’ll stick around until they’re ready.” Over 30 years later, Bill Wilson’s daughter, Jody Wilson-Raybould, became Canada’s first Indigenous minister of justice and attorney general in the government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. The conference was Pierre Elliott Trudeau’s last constitutional meeting before he resigned and the process was handed over to his successor, Brian Mulroney.