This short documentary looks at the Indigenous Gitxsan community in central British Columbia’s Skeena River through one of its members, Ben Risdale. Watch as Ben follows the “Grease Trail” from the first snowfall, and follow along as he tends his traplines while living outdoors among the grandeur of the surrounding forest and mountains. His reward? A valuable stock of fur pelts.
The historic post of Moose Factory on James Bay is still a centre of Canada's fur trade. The camera follows Cree trapper George McLoed as he goes out from the post to visit his trap lines. Bivouacing in the open, in bitter cold, he traps mink and beaver, skillfully skinning the animals and drying the rich pelts. Back at the post, he sells his furs to the Hudson's Bay trader.
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.
For five or six months at a time, Frank Ladouceur lives alone, trapping muskrat in the vast, desolate wilderness of northern Alberta. His family last visited him there some 14 years ago, and Frank’s own visits to the family home in Fort Chipewyan are few and far between. This is the story of an independent Métis man who is remarkably determined and self-sufficient, and who is ceaselessly called to return to the bush. Early experiences at Holy Angels residential school are recounted by his daughter. A Christmas play at the local school is presented in Cree. After a family Christmas meal, the fiddle and guitar are taken out and the Red River Jig begins.
This short film from 1946 presents an outline of the fur trade's history and the commercial use of fur in Canada. A thirst for fur by the kings and courts of the Old World positioned the fur trade as part of the country's industrial economy. Fur farming and conservation became increasingly important, although the lonely life of the trapper remained the same. This film offers a view of both.
A vivid recollection of the free west of the North American Indigenous Peoples and the vast herds of buffalo that once thundered across the plains. From paintings of the mid-1800s, the animation camera creates a most convincing picture of the buffalo hunt, both as the Indigenous People and, disastrously, the white hunters practised it.
An NFB crew filmed a group of three families, Cree hunters from Mistassini. Since times predating agriculture, this First Nations people have gone to the bush of the James Bay and Ungava Bay area to hunt. We see the building of the winter camp, the hunting and the rhythms of Cree family life.
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.
On the Gesgapegiag reserve (formerly known as Maria Reserve) in the Baie des Chaleurs region of Québec, Mi’kmaq children make birds and dolls of brightly coloured paper, which they hang in trees. But they are reluctant to have visitors see them, claiming, 'People might laugh at us.' The film is without comment except for the background music.
In 1977, the James Bay Festival took place over nine days in Montreal. This historic one-of-a-kind event was held in support of the James Bay Cree whose territory, resources and culture were threatened by the expansion of hydro-electric dams. First Nations, Métis and Inuit performers came from across North America to show their support in an act of Indigenous unity and solidarity few people in Montreal had ever witnessed. Rarely seen early performances by legendary Indigenous artists Gordon Tootoosis, Tom Jackson, Duke Redbird, Willie Dunn and director Alanis Obomsawin herself are interspersed with testimonies of members of the James Bay Cree. Their stories reveal first-hand experiences of the negative impacts of capitalistic expansion on Cree land.
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 documentary focuses on the goose hunt, a ritual of central importance to the Cree people of the James Bay coastal areas. Not only a source of food, the hunt is also used to transfer Cree culture, skills, and ethics to future generations. Filmmaker Paul M. Rickard invites us along with his own family on a fall goose hunt, so that we can share in the experience.