This documentary demonstrates the transformative power of video through the stories of four at-risk youths. These young people have issues ranging from addiction to a life spent on the street, or in foster homes. In learning to make videos about their lives, they've discovered a creative outlet that allows them to heal.The group completes their experience by spending a weekend with a group of former street kids who did a similar workshop a decade earlier. Now in their 30s, they share their stories with their younger counterparts. Surprising, and often disturbing, parallels emerge between the two groups, along with glimmers of hope for the youth.
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.
Take a hilarious and bittersweet journey into the hearts and minds of some very ordinary, extraordinary young Canadians with this feature-length documentary. The filmmaker, assuming the role of Clint Star, seeks out his far-flung buddies, young Indigenous people like himself. They talk about sex and life, love and abuse, and 500 years of oppression—all with humour, grace and courage.
This feature-length documentary from Inuvialuit filmmaker Dennis Allen is an emotional and revealing exploration of addiction among Indigenous people in Canada.After years of struggle and shame, 5 Indigenous Canadians bravely come forward with their stories of substance abuse, presenting the sensitive topic of alcoholism in an honest and forthright manner. Alex, Paula, Desirae, Stephen, and Dennis himself maintain a deep and devoted commitment to their traditional culture to achieve long-term sobriety. Through their voices, this insightful doc offers an inspirational beacon of hope for others.
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 film introduces us to Sébastien Aubin, a French-speaking member of Manitoba's Opaskwayak Cree Nation. He works as a graphic artist for a living, but he's embarked on a personal spiritual and identity quest on the side. Attempting to transcend the material world, he's apprenticing in traditional Indigenous medicine with healer Mark Thompson. The relationship between the two figures marks the contrast between generations; between modernity and tradition. It makes the 360-degree turn from the values of the past to those of today strikingly apparent.This documentary was made as part of the Tremplin program, with the collaboration of Radio-Canada.
In this feature-length documentary, 8 Inuit teens with cameras offer a vibrant and contemporary view of life in Canada's North. They also use their newly acquired film skills to confront a broad range of issues, from the widening communication gap between youth and their elders to the loss of their peers to suicide. In Inuktitut with English subtitles.
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.
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.
In this feature-length documentary, 8 Inuit teens with cameras offer a vibrant and contemporary view of life in Canada’s North. They also use their newly acquired film skills to confront a broad range of issues, from the widening communication gap between youth and their elders to the loss of their peers to suicide.
Ages 16 to 18
Family Studies/Home Economics - Adolescent Development
Health/Personal Development - Mental Health/Stress/Suicide
Health/Personal Development - Substance Use and Abuse/Addiction
Indigenous Studies - Issues and Contemporary Challenges
Warning: Intravenous drug use, drug use, swearing (fuck). This documentary can inspire research, discussion, projects and entry points for developing deeper understandings of at-risk youth and media production as an outlet. How can media production be a tool that uplifts at-risk youth and creates pathways towards a more hopeful and healthy future? Why is it essential to have a long-term continuum of social support for at-risk youth rather than short-term initiatives? What social programs or initiatives are currently available to inspire hope and opportunity for at-risk youth in urban areas? How can learning people’s backstory create deeper understanding of the negative social impacts that they may face? Can learning the backstory of individuals and groups increase empathy and action towards social programming that encourage resilience and hope? What is a cycle of abandonment and how can this cycle be broken? Does the lure of material wealth encourage at-risk youth to partake in illicit money-making ventures? What is the correlation between children in foster care and at-risk homeless youth?