Shedding Light on the Scourge of Gender-Based Violence (Ages 15+)

Shedding Light on the Scourge of Gender-Based Violence (Ages 15+)

School subjects: Family Studies/Home Economics - Feminism, Health and Personal Development - Healthy Relationships, Indigenous Studies - Identity/Society

Gender-based violence remains a human rights issue, one that is entrenched in all societies regardless of race, socio-economic class, sexual orientation, or religion. Although Canada is considered one of the top-ranking countries for gender equity, we have not eradicated gender-based violence.

Educators have an important role to play in examining the stereotypes and discrimination that contribute to violence against women. History students address war atrocities committed against Comfort Women during WWII and see the resistance to issuing a formal apology to survivors. In a social studies class, students examine the impact of pay inequity, the devaluing of migrant labour and the effects of relationship violence. All of these issues intersect and overlap. The 21st-century student is not content to be just a passive learner; their goal is to explore how these issues affect them and what they can do to build a better society.

Several films in this playlist specifically address existing structural barriers as well as the feminist movement's interrogation of power and privilege. This includes recognizing systemic barriers and the impacts of colonialism on Indigenous and racialized women, since they face additional consequences when navigating social and legal systems. There is a moral imperative to empowering students with the ability to have frank and informed discussions about violence against women. In their own personal development, they are learning to establish healthy relationship boundaries and are developing their own understanding of what it means to be female in society.

As educators, we are constantly helping students process complex issues. We are moving them beyond the outrage and towards an understanding of how they can take action against violence against women. The hope is to give them the ability to prioritize and protect women from the cycle of violence, whether it is as an ally, an activist or an advocate. The call to action against gender-based violence has never been louder nor clearer. Altering the narrative about violence against women is a responsibility that the NFB takes to heart.

Jse-Che Lam, NFB Educator Network

Resource List

Kids Help Phone
General distress hotline for children and youth, including those who may be experiencing or using violence.

Assaulted Women’s Helpline
Toll-free support hotline for women who have experienced gender-based violence.

Talk 4 Healing
Service languages: Ojibway, Oji-Cree, Cree, English, French
Provides 24/7 culturally sensitive counselling, advice and support to Indigenous women.

Shelter Safe
Directory of emergency and transitional shelter and housing services across Canada for women experiencing gender-based violence.

  • A Better Man
    2017|1 h 19 min

    Illuminating a new paradigm for domestic-violence prevention, A Better Man offers a fresh and nuanced look at the healing and revelation that can happen for everyone involved when men take responsibility for their abuse. It also empowers audience members to play new roles in challenging domestic violence, whether it’s in their own relationships or as part of a broader movement for social change.

    To Learn more about A Better Man and access additional resources, visit A Better Man project

  • Because We Are Girls
    2019|1 h 25 min

    A conservative Indo-Canadian family in small-town British Columbia must come to terms with a devastating secret: three sisters were sexually abused by an older relative beginning in their childhood years. After remaining silent for nearly two and a half decades, the sisters finally decide to come forward—not only to protect other young relatives, but to set an example for their daughters as well.

  • Finding Dawn
    2006|1 h 13 min

    Acclaimed Métis filmmaker Christine Welsh brings us a compelling documentary that puts a human face on a national tragedy – the epidemic of missing or murdered Indigenous women in Canada. The film takes a journey into the heart of Indigenous women's experience, from Vancouver's skid row, down the Highway of Tears in northern BC, and on to Saskatoon, where the murders and disappearances of these women remain unsolved.

  • this river

    This short documentary offers an Indigenous perspective on the devastating experience of searching for a loved one who has disappeared. Volunteer activist Kyle Kematch and award-winning writer Katherena Vermette have both survived this heartbreak and share their histories with each other and the audience. While their stories are different, they both exemplify the beauty, grace, resilience, and activism born out of the need to do something.

  • Into the Light
    2020|1 h 19 min

    Into the Light features the liberating life stories and powerful words of inspiring Quebec women of African origin who’ve regained control over their lives after suffering from domestic violence. The film transcends prejudice and breaks the silence, pulling back the curtain on a poorly understood, hidden world, while testifying to the tremendous power that comes from overcoming isolation and accepting one’s self. It’s a luminous dive into the quest for personal healing and universal humanity. This is Togo-born director Gentille M. Assih’s third documentary.

    Consult the mini-lesson to find activities designed to help teachers lead discussions in the classroom.

    If you’re at risk, here’s how to watch the film more privately. First, close this page and clear your browsing history. Next, open a new private window (instead of simply opening a new window) and paste this address into the private window: This will prevent the film’s page from appearing in your browsing history.

  • Gender Matters: A Virtual Discussion on Violence Against Women
    2017|48 min

    As part of the Young Women's National Leadership Summit, the YWCA and the National Film Board of Canada (NFB) invited participants aged 17+ from across North America to take part in a conversation with three outstanding role models and leaders in the fight for women's rights. Focusing on the subject of gender-based violence, the panellists discussed the issues that women are facing today, and how we can work together to create a fairer and safer society for all.

  • Last Chance
    2012|1 h 24 min

    This feature documentary tells the stories of 5 asylum seekers who flee their native countries to escape homophobic violence. They face hurdles integrating into Canada, fear deportation and anxiously await a decision that will change their lives forever.

  • A Love That Kills
    campus 1999 | 19 min

    A Love That Kills is a powerful documentary that tells the tragic story of Monica, a nineteen-year-old woman who was murdered by her former boyfriend. Monica's mother speaks passionately throughout the video, bravely telling viewers about her daughter's life and tragic death. She describes the helplessness she felt watching the emotional and economic abuse. She later discovered that physical battering was also part of the violence that Monica endured. In a parallel conversation, young people list the symptoms of partner abuse from male and female points of view. A Love That Kills helps to identify the warning signs of partner abuse, especially in young people, and the damage it causes emotionally and physically.

  • Sisters in the Struggle

    This documentary features Black women active in politics as well as community, labour and feminist organizing. They share their insights and personal testimonies on the double legacy of racism and sexism, linking their personal struggles with the ongoing battle to end systemic discrimination and violence against women and people of colour.

  • The Apology
    campus 2016 | 1 h 44 min

    The Apology follows the personal journeys of three former “comfort women” who were among the 200,000 girls and young women kidnapped and forced into military sexual slavery by the Imperial Japanese Army during World War II. Some 70 years after their imprisonment in so-called “comfort stations', the three “grandmothers”– Grandma Gil in South Korea, Grandma Cao in China, and Grandma Adela in the Philippines – face their twilight years in fading health. After decades of living in silence and shame about their past, they know that time is running out to give a first-hand account of the truth and ensure that this horrific chapter of history is not forgotten. Whether they are seeking a formal apology from the Japanese government or summoning the courage to finally share their secret with loved ones, their resolve moves them forward as they seize this last chance to set future generations on a course for reconciliation, healing, and justice.

  • After the Montreal Massacre
    1990|27 min

    December 6, 1989. Sylvie Gagnon was attending her last day of classes at the University of Montreal's École Polytechnique, when Marc Lépine entered the building. Separating the women from the men, he opened fire on the women students, yelling 'You're all a bunch of feminists.' Sylvie survived, while fourteen other women were murdered. This video makes the connection between the massacre and male violence against women, setting the stage for an exploration of misogyny and sexism.

  • Status Quo? The Unfinished Business of Feminism in Canada
    2012|1 h 27 min

    Feminism has shaped the society we live in. But just how far has it brought us, and how relevant is it today? This feature documentary zeroes in on key concerns such as violence against women, access to abortion, and universal childcare, asking how much progress we have truly made on these issues. Rich with archival material and startling contemporary stories, Status Quo? uncovers answers that are provocative and at times shocking.