Alexis Ladouceur's life has the tranquility of his surroundings and he belongs to the lake as much as the fish he lifts from the net or the flight of ducks arrowing over the reeds. By contrast, his brother, who farms nearby, seems of a different world. The film reflects the past story of the Métis, people of mixed French and First Nations' heritage, and the life of their communities.
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.
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.
Part of the Daughters of the Country series, this dramatic film set in 1929 depicts how Canada's West, home to generations of Métis, was taken over by the railroads and new settlers. As a result, the Métis became a forgotten people, forced to eke out a living as best they could. At the forefront is Rose, a woman determined to provide her children with a normal life and an education despite the odds. But due to their harsh circumstances, a devastating and traumatic event transpires instead.
Part of the Daughters of the Country series, this film, set in the 1850s, unfolds against the backdrop of the Hudson's Bay Company's monopoly of the fur trade. In protest, some Métis engage in trade with the Americans. Madeleine, the Métis common-law wife of a Hudson's Bay Company clerk, is torn between loyalty to her husband and loyalty to her brother, a freetrader. Even more shattering, a change in company policy destroys Madeleine's happy and secure life, forcing her to re-evaluate her identity.
This short film portrays the experiences of Rhonda Gordon and her daughter, Angela, when a simple bus ride changes their lives in an unforeseeable way. When they are harassed by three boys, Rhonda finds the courage to take a unique and powerful stance against ignorance and prejudice. What ensues is a dramatic story of racism and empowerment.
An important figure in the history of Canadian Indigenous filmmaking, Gil Cardinal was born to a Métis mother but raised by a non-Indigenous foster family, and with this auto-biographical documentary he charts his efforts to find his biological mother and to understand why he was removed from her. Considered a milestone in documentary cinema, it addressed the country’s internal colonialism in a profoundly personal manner, winning a Special Jury Prize at Banff and multiple international awards. “Foster Child is one of the great docs to come out of Canada, and nobody but Gil could have made it,” says Jesse Wente, director of Canada’s Indigenous Screen Office. “Gil made it possible for us to think about putting our own stories on the screen, and that was something new and important.”
In this feature-length documentary by Alanis Obomsawin, it's the summer of 2000 and the country watches in disbelief as federal fisheries wage war on the Mi'kmaq fishermen of Burnt Church, New Brunswick. Why would officials of the Canadian government attack citizens for exercising rights that had been affirmed by the highest court in the land? Casting her cinematic and intellectual nets into history to provide context, Obomsawin delineates the complex roots of the conflict with passion and clarity, building a persuasive defence of the Mi'kmaq position.
In this acclaimed 1994 documentary, Loretta Todd, a leading figure in Indigenous cinema in Canada, profiles four contemporary female artists—Doreen Jensen, Rena Point Bolton, Jane Ash Poitras and Joane Cardinal-Schubert—who seek to find a continuum from traditional to contemporary forms of expression. Each artist reveals her practice and journey in her own words. The film is a moving testimony to the vital role Indigenous women play in nurturing Indigenous cultures.
This short documentary takes a fascinating look at the meaning behind some Indigenous masks from the North Pacific coast. Our guide is professor Claude Levi-Strauss of Paris, a world-renowned anthropologist and authority on the structural analysis of myth. He explains the significant features of 3 masks, and the stories behind them, while also visiting an Indigenous carver on Vancouver Island.
This short film from the late 1960s depicts a rug-making cooperative organized by the Sioux women of the Standing Buffalo Reserve in the Qu’Appelle Valley of southern Saskatchewan. The members of this band are descended from a tribe that migrated from Minnesota during armed clashes over a hundred years ago. The Sioux, noted for their distinctive, colourful designs, show off their handicraft in great detail.
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.