For Canada’s 150th anniversary of Confederation, the NFB is curating portraits of ordinary Canadians with extraordinary stories to tell.
Mabel Robinson is a hairdresser in Hubbards, Nova Scotia. At 90 years old, this hairdressing pioneer is still styling up a storm.
Kenojuak Ashevak is an Inuit artist. In stone and on sealskins, she recreates the curious creatures that inhabit her world.
Ken Carter is a simple man with an epic dream: building a rocket-powered car to jump across the St. Lawrence River.
Discover these extraordinary ordinary Canadians and many more in the following film playlist.
Feisty, fiercely independent and firmly rooted in place, 90 year-old Mabel Robinson broke barriers back in the 40s when she became the first woman in Hubbards, Nova Scotia, to launch her own business—a hairdressing salon where she still provides shampoo-n-sets over 70 years later. Weaving animation and archival imagery with intimate and laugh out loud moments in the salon, the film celebrates the power of friendship, doing what you love and staying active. With no desire to retire anytime soon, Mabel gives voice to a generation who are not front and center of cinema or the pop hairstyles of the day, and subtly shifts the lens on our perception of beauty and the elderly.
At the age of 5, Hannah Taylor spotted her first homeless person in the back alleys of Winnipeg. This experience not only troubled her, but it drove her to do nothing less than change the world. The Ladybug Foundation, the charity Hannah helped establish, has raised over a million dollars to date. With her huge heart and can-do attitude, she preaches a simple message of "Share a little of what you have and always care about others." As this short documentary proves, we all have a lot to learn from Hannah's story.
For nearly 40 years, Charlie Chamberlain was one of the most popular vocalists in Canada—and the most beloved member of the old-time band Don Messer and His Islanders. This five-minute short by filmmaker Rachel Bower brings Chamberlain’s home-grown talent and gregarious personality back to life.
This documentary is about Bob Diemert of Carman, Manitoba, and his dream of building the world's next great fighter plane. His worldwide reputation as a genius at restoring "warbirds" enables him to finance his dream. The Defender is a lively, sometimes wild and funny, tale about a remarkable, modern-day folk hero.
For more background information about this film, visit the NFB.ca blog.
This short documentary takes us to a farmhouse on Cape Breton Island where Shawn Peter Dwyer, age 10, lives with his mother and nine brothers and sisters. While the children’s pockets are usually empty, their lives are well filled. This film is part of the Children of Canada series.
This short documentary focuses on prairie sculptor Joe Fafard. If there's one thing Joe knows, it's cows. He knows the way they tuck in their forelegs to lie down to ruminate and the way a calf romps in the barnyard. He also knows his friends and neighbours in the farming community of Pense, Saskatchewan—and he sculpts them all in clay, as eloquent and quirky miniatures. Joe's work has been exhibited throughout Canada as well as in Paris and New York, and this film offers a glimpse into his process, his aesthetic, and the charming prairie community in which he lives.
This short documentary offers an intimate portrait of Augusta Evans, an 88-year-old Secwépmec woman who has spent her life in the hills of the Williams Lake area of British Columbia, where she lives alone in a log cabin without running water or electricity. Born the daughter of a Chief, Augusta was forced to attend residential school and lost her treaty status when she wed her non-Indigenous husband. After seeing a woman lose her life in childbirth, Augusta taught herself midwifery from a book and delivered many babies, including her own daughter, whom she birthed alone in her cabin. Having lived through many losses and now surviving on a $250 monthly pension that barely covers wood and groceries, Augusta is a cherished member of her community, where she shares her knowledge and songs, and laments that the young people are not learning their language.
Filmed at the Wing Fong Farm in Ontario, this documentary follows the tilling, planting and harvesting of Asian vegetables destined for Chinese markets and restaurants. On 80 acres of land, Lau King-Fai, her son and a half-dozen migrant Mexican workers care for the plants. For Yeung Kwan, her son, the farm represents personal and financial independence. For his mother, it is an oasis of peace. For the Mexican workers, it provides jobs that help support their children back home.
This documentary shows how an Inuit artist's drawings are transferred to stone, printed and sold. Kenojuak Ashevak became the first woman involved with the printmaking co-operative in Cape Dorset. This film was nominated for the 1963 Documentary Short Subject Oscar®.
Please note that this is an archival film that makes use of the word “Eskimo,” an outdated and offensive term. While the origin of the word is a matter of some contention, it is no longer used in Canada. The term was formally rejected by the Inuit Circumpolar Council in 1980 and has subsequently not been in use at the NFB for decades. This film is therefore a time-capsule of a bygone era, presented in its original version. The NFB apologizes for the offence caused.