Released in 1969, These Are My People… was the first NFB film made entirely by an Indigenous crew. It was co-directed by Roy Daniels, Willie Dunn, Michael Kanentakeron Mitchell and Barbara Wilson—members of the Indian Film Crew (IFC), an all-Indigenous unit established in 1968 as part of Challenge for Change, a broader organizational initiative to use media to effect social change. One of the first Canadian documentaries to foreground an Indigenous perspective on the history of Indigenous–settler relations, it features Standing Arrow and Tom Porter, from the Kanien’kéhaka (Mohawk) community of Akwesasne, who discuss longhouse religion, culture, government and the impacts of settler arrival on their way of life.
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.
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.
Pete Standing Alone of the Kainai Nation was more at home in the White man's culture than his own as a young man. However, confronted with the realization that his children knew very little about their origins, he became determined to pass down to them the customs and traditions of his ancestors. This hour-long film is the powerful biographical study of a twenty-five-year span in Pete's life, from his early days as an oil-rig roughneck, rodeo rider and cowboy, to the present as an Indigenous man concerned with preserving his Nation's spiritual heritage in the face of an energy-oriented industrial age.
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 documentary short is an introduction to the Bella Bella (Heiltsuk) of Campbell Island, 500 km North of Vancouver on the Pacific Coast. Since the coming of settlers, these fishing people have watched their ancient Heiltsuk culture and their independence all but disappear. Today, in an energetic attempt to become self-sufficient, they are regaining both - successfully combining economic development with cultural revival.
We hear the Heiltsuk language spoken in the film (Haíɫzaqvḷa).
This short film tells the story of Rocky Morin, a drummer who first felt the pull of the drum almost 15 years ago and hasn't looked back since. It's a powerful reminder of the need to maintain a strong connection to one's roots. First Stories is an emerging filmmaker program for Indigenous youth which produced 3 separate collections of short films from Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta. Produced in association with CBC, APTN, SCN, SaskFilm and MANITOBA FILM & SOUND.
A tribute to Indigenous women everywhere, this short documentary focuses on 5 women from across Canada. Of varied ages and backgrounds, they have achieved success in a variety of careers: as the Yukon legislature's first Indigenous woman minister (Margaret Joe), as a deck hand on a fishing boat (Corinne Hunt), as a teacher (Sophie MacLeod), as a lawyer (Roberta Jamieson), and as a band council chief (Sophie May Pierre - St. Mary’s Indian Band of the Ktunaxa Nation off the Ktunaxa Nation).Each of these women talks about how she got to where she is today while emphasizing the importance of Indigenous culture - its values, art, and spiritual beliefs - in helping her to develop a sense of self and seeing through rough times, including residential school experiences.
The Road Forward, a musical documentary by Marie Clements, connects a pivotal moment in Canada’s civil rights history—the beginnings of Indian Nationalism in the 1930s—with the powerful momentum of First Nations activism today. The Road Forward’s stunningly shot musical sequences, performed by an ensemble of some of Canada’s finest vocalists and musicians, seamlessly connect past and present with soaring vocals, blues, rock, and traditional beats. A rousing tribute to the fighters for First Nations rights, a soul-resounding historical experience, and a visceral call to action.
The men of Shoal Lake 40 tell the story of life in the community from their perspective, in the lead-up to their annual powwow. Lorne Redsky works the outdated pump house; there is no money to fix basic systems and bottled water is required for everyday use. As Lorne focuses his energy on the monumental task of getting clean water to the powwow, community member Kavin Redsky prepares his regalia for dancing, a deeply personal process connected to his healing journey. The two men embody the powerful gifts of community, traditional culture, and medicines, which have given the people of Shoal Lake 40 the resilience to continue the fight for Freedom Road
In this short film, filmmaker Tessa Desnomie celebrates the life and times of her grandmother, Jane Merasty. Born and raised on the trapline, this Woodlands Cree woman has witnessed significant changes throughout her vigorous 80 years. First Stories is an emerging filmmaker program for Indigenous youth which produced 3 separate collections of short films from Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta. Produced in association with CBC, APTN, SCN, SaskFilm and MANITOBA FILM & SOUND.
"Some say when a child dies, you lose your future, and when an elder dies, you lose your past." Life Givers: Honouring Our Elders and Children is a poignant short film that testifies to the need to grieve and honour the memory of loved ones.
Ages 13 to 18
Ethics and Religious Culture - Religious Diversity/Heritage
History and Citizenship Education - Imperialism and Colonization (1800s-1900s)
History and Citizenship Education - Issues in Society Today
Indigenous Studies - History/Politics
Indigenous Studies - Identity/Society
Ideal for introducing students to the history of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, “people of the longhouse,” or more commonly known as the Iroquois or Six Nations. Research what Canadian laws and policies contributed to the “loss of the Indian way of life,” as mentioned in the film. How did the attitudes of settlers and the Indian Act contribute to the severing of matrilineal societies, and does this correlate with Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women? How did the Haudenosaunee Confederacy influence the United Nations and Canadian government structures? Although this film was created in 1969, how is the message evoked in the film still significant today? Why do racism, prejudice and discrimination against Indigenous people persist in Canada? This is the first NFB film made entirely by an Indigenous crew; why is it important for Indigenous Peoples to tell their own stories by being behind the camera as well as in front of the camera?