This feature documentary by Alanis Obomsawin is a thoughtful tribute to Norman Cornett, a McGill University professor celebrated by scores of students appreciative of his unconventional yet powerful teaching methods who was controversially dismissed from his teaching duties in 2007.
In this documentary, striking political science students concerned with the democratization of their university occupy the offices of the Political Science Department at McGill University. The issue: greater student control over the hiring of faculty. The film crew lives with the students and follows their action through confusion, argument, dissent, and negotiations with faculty. The result is an intimate view of a student political action.
On September 9, 2002, a scheduled appearance by former Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu sparked heated debate at Montreal's Concordia University. By the end of the day, the "Concordia riot" had made international news, from CNN to Al-Jazeera. This film documents the fallout from that eventful day, following three young campus activists as they negotiate the most formative year of their lives. Filmmakers Ben Addelman and Samir Mallal jump into the fray with street-smart bravado and a handheld camera. Buoyed by the songs of hip-hop artist Buck 65, this film offers a tonic reflection on the current state of Canadian student activism and the enduring value of tolerance.
This feature documentary zooms in on a Grade 6 class in Quebec where a teacher is implementing an experimental teaching method aimed at preparing children to take up environmental challenges. Over the course of a year, Dominique Leduc’s students will learn to identify, analyze and resolve a problem that exists in their world. They also learn about the uncertainty faced by those who want change.
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.
This feature-length documentary is an on-the-spot record of the student protests that shook the Université de Moncton in 1968-69. Led by students desiring greater recognition of the French fact in New Brunswick, the protests spawned street marches, petitions and a sit-in, but also many discussions among students seeking to re-establish an Acadian identity.
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.
Also available on the Alanis Obomsawin: A Legacy DVD box set
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.
This feature documentary tells the story of the Notre-Dame-du-Sacré-Cœur Congregation which was formed in 1924 when 53 French-speaking nuns separated from their unilingual English community, forming a new religious community that immediately began to campaign for the preservation of Acadian language, faith and culture. Convinced that education was essential for Acadian women, in 1943 the Congregation founded Collège Notre-Dame d’Acadie, where young women were able to study in French for the first time in New Brunswick.
This sharp and funny mockumentary uses role reversal to illustrate the realities of overt and systemic racism in the workplace.
This film is part of the Work For All series, produced by the National Film Board of Canada, with the participation of Human Resources and Skills Development Canada.
Our People Will Be Healed, Alanis Obomsawin’s 50th film, reveals how a Cree community in Manitoba has been enriched through the power of education. The Helen Betty Osborne Ininiw Education Resource Centre in Norway House, north of Winnipeg, receives a level of funding that few other Indigenous institutions enjoy. Its teachers help their students to develop their abilities and their sense of pride.
Also available on the Alanis Obomsawin: A Legacy DVD box set
Every summer, the Royal Canadian Air Cadets offers its top cadets the chance to participate in an elite flight-training camp. As the Crow Flies follows a group of these young men and women as they undergo seven weeks of training to get their pilot’s license in an intense program that normally takes six to eight months.
Ages 18 to 18
Civics/Citizenship - Ideologies
Ethics and Religious Culture - Ethical Values
This documentary can inspire research, discussion, projects and deeper learning about teaching pedagogies and the role of critical thinking in society. What is dialogic education and what place does it have in higher learning? How did learning take place within Indigenous original ways of education and what parallels can be drawn to the methods discussed in this film? What does quality education look and feel like to you? How have pedagogies of teaching shifted throughout history? Does higher education mean learning how to think critically for oneself or is it only about learning how to regurgitate information dictated by educational institutions? What is the difference between being taught how to get a life rather than being taught how to get a job? How important is creativity in learning? How do we learn to think for ourselves, to make our own decisions and to make informed decisions? What role does connection and relationship with educators play in student success? Why would promoting critical inquiry be deemed as a threat to some powers that be? Consider characteristics and methods of engagement your most memorable teachers used that made an impact on you.