As the only First Nations student in an all-white 1940s school, eight-year old Wato is keenly aware of the hostility towards her. She deeply misses the loving environment of the reserve she once called home, and her isolation is sharpened by her father’s serious illness. When Wato’s teacher reads from a history book describing First Nations peoples as ignorant and cruel, it aggravates her classmates’ prejudice. Shy and vulnerable Wato becomes the target of their bullying and abuse. Alone in her suffering, she finds solace and strength in the protective world of her magical dreams.
Inspired by personal experiences of writer and director Alanis Obomsawin, When All the Leaves are Gone combines autobiography, fiction and fable to create a deeply moving story about the power of dreams.
Ages 12 to 18
Study Guide - Guide 1
Health/Personal Development - Bullying & Discrimination
Indigenous Studies - Arts
Indigenous Studies - History/Politics
Indigenous Studies - Identity/Society
This documentary can inspire research, discussion, projects and entry points for developing foundational knowledge in relation to residential schools and the education system. What were residential schools and how did they contribute to an on-going legacy of trauma? What is forced assimilation and how did it contribute to identity loss and attempted genocide? How can connecting with the land and creativity nurture well-being? How can creative outlets be a coping mechanism to nurture positive overall well-being? How does/did the education system promote systemically embedded negative attitudes and beliefs about First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples? How important is it to learn critical thinking and digital/media literacy skills in schools to help disseminate the spread of false information designed to promote disparity amongst people? How and why has hateful rhetoric towards First Nations people become normalized in Canadian society? What actions can you take individually or as a group to help dissolve negative beliefs and stereotypes about First Nations people and encourage whole body wellness? How will this benefit society as a whole? Why is it critical to include First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples’ historical and contemporary narratives in all aspects of the education system?