This short documentary takes a poignant look at cultural misunderstanding and its toll on a family's grief. When filmmaker Gerald Auger lost his father, the local Anglican priest refused to allow the family to bury their father in the traditional Cree way - with the drum and the smudge - because he was buried on Anglican church property. Gerald sets out to resolve his hurt and anger and his path leads him to some unexpected places.Second Stories follows on the heels of the enormously successful First Stories project, which produced 3 separate collections of short films from Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta. Second Stories builds on that success by continuing the training with 3 of the 12 Indigenous filmmakers who delivered such compelling short documentaries. Produced in association with CBC, APTN, SCN, SaskFilm and MANITOBA FILM & SOUND.
This short documentary follows three Indigenous women as they practice ancestral forms of worship: drumming, singing, and using sweetgrass. These ancient spiritual traditions may at first seem at odds with urban life, but to Indigenous people in Canada who are used to praying in natural settings, the whole world is sacred space.
This feature-length documentary chronicles the Sundance ceremony brought to Eastern Canada by William Nevin of the Elsipogtog First Nation of the Mi'kmaq. Nevin learned from Elder Keith Chiefmoon of the Blackfoot Confederacy in Alberta. Under the July sky, participants in the Sundance ceremony go four days without food or water. Then they will pierce the flesh of their chests in an offering to the Creator. This event marks a transmission of culture and a link to the warrior traditions of the past.
This very short film from the Canada Vignettes series documents the annual pilgrimage that members of Saskatchewan’s Métis Catholic community make to St. Laurent, a village in the Duck Lake area that became the Métis nation’s spiritual centre at the time of the 1885 Northwest Rebellion.
This short documentary journeys into the spiritual world of traditional Indigenous medicine, a world inhabited by Dr. Mary Louie (a spiritual leader of the Syilx or Okanagan Nation), and her husband Ed Louie. With a lifetime of experience in the ways of spirituality, they are committed to practices that keep them accountable to the spirit world, their people, and Mother Earth. When one of the crew members get sick while shooting, his subsequent care is recorded for the purposes of this film.
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.
Just north of the City of Edmonton lies Poundmaker’s Lodge, an addiction and mental-health facility specializing in treatment for Indigenous people. Founded in 1973 and still operational today, the Lodge’s programs and services are Indigenous-run and based in culturally appropriate recovery and healing techniques. Framing the short documentary with the words of the great Plains Cree Chief Pîhtokahanapiwiyin (Poundmaker), Alanis Obomsawin presents a frank examination of the root causes of substance abuse in Indigenous communities and how the absence of love and support – exacerbated by the impacts of colonialism and racism – created a legacy of alcoholism for some individuals.
This short film traces Pete Standing Alone's personal journey from cultural alienation to pride and belonging. As a spiritual elder, teacher, and community leader of the Kainai Nation of Southern Alberta, Pete works with youth to repair the cultural and spiritual destruction wrought by residential schools. At age 81, he has come full-circle in his dedication to preserving the traditional ways of his people.
This feature-length documentary explores the diabetes epidemic within Indigenous communities in Canada. Ojibway filmmaker Brion Whitford lives with the pain of advanced diabetes, but shunned traditional Indigenous medicine and healing practices. But as his health deteriorated, he had a change of heart. Join Brion as he connects with his culture, comes to grips with his own mortality, and tries to re-establish balance in his life.
Shoal Lake 40 women talk about their struggles, and those of their parents and grandparents, in trying to raise their families in a hazardous state of enforced isolation. Everyone in the community has a harrowing story of a loved one falling through the ice while trying to get across the lake, with pregnant women and new mothers fearing for their babies and having no choice but to make the trek in dangerous conditions. The film shows the key role of the community’s women in demanding funding for the road from three levels of government, and how their reconnection to culture and ceremony give them the strength to keep going.
Ages 16 to 18
Study Guide - Guide 1
Ethics and Religious Culture - Ethical Values
Ethics and Religious Culture - Religious Diversity/Heritage
Indigenous Studies - History/Politics
Indigenous Studies - Identity/Society
Indigenous Studies - Issues and Contemporary Challenges
This documentary can inspire research, discussion, projects and entry points for developing foundational knowledge in relation to First Nations spirituality and the history of spiritual desecration. Explain the difference and similarities between religion and spirituality. What are the roots of fear and misunderstanding of First Nations ceremonial ways? Research the diverse methods of grieving and honouring the dead within various First Nations contexts across what is now Canada. Research why some promoted the idea that the drum is evil and what sort of thinking or ethics motivates these types of fears and misunderstandings. What actions towards atonement and reconciliation have the Anglican Church and other religious organizations taken since the official Residential School Apology?