How can we create a healthier and more equitable world?
The COVID-19 pandemic has shown us that effective health care entails far more than proximity to a hospital or access to a family physician. It’s about access to housing, clean drinking water, mental health support, and education, as well as food security for all. These factors have a major impact on one’s ability to live a healthy life, and not everyone in Canada is provided the conditions to do so. This playlist looks at unequal access to basic human rights, across Canada and around the world. Often, it’s the most vulnerable populations who experience increased suffering, illness and death because basic services aren’t available to them. Learning about the issues these communities face is a start to building a fairer—and hopefully healthier—world for everyone.
Alanis Obomsawin's 52nd film tells the story of how the life of Jordan River Anderson initiated a battle for the right of First Nations and Inuit children to receive the same standard of social, health and educational services as the rest of the Canadian population.
In this personal documentary, award-winning photographer and filmmaker Nance Ackerman invites us into the lives of a determined family for a profound experience of child poverty in one of the richest countries in the world. 20 years after the House of Commons promised to eliminate poverty among Canadian children, 8-year-old Isaiah is trying hard to grow up healthy, smart and well adjusted despite the odds stacked against him. Isaiah knows he's been categorized as "less fortunate," and his short life has seen more than his share of social workers, food banks and police interventions. His parents struggle to overcome a legacy of stereotypes, abuse and dysfunction. More than anything, they want Isaiah and his siblings to have access to opportunities they never had. Ackerman spent 2 years with Isaiah and his family. As her portrait of the family unfolds with the help of Isaiah's creative input, curiosity and zest for life, so do Ackerman's own feelings about the responsibilities of Canadians to raise all children as our best investment in the nation's future.
The people of the Attawapiskat First Nation, a Cree community in northern Ontario, were thrust into the national spotlight in 2012 when the impoverished living conditions on their reserve became an issue of national debate. With The People of the Kattawapiskak River, Abenaki director Alanis Obomsawin quietly attends as community members tell their own story, shedding light on a history of dispossession and official indifference. “Obomsawin’s main objective is to make us see the people of Attawapiskat differently,” said Robert Everett-Green in The Globe & Mail. “The emphasis, ultimately, is not so much on looking as on listening—the first stage in changing the conversation, or in making one possible.” Winner of the 2013 Donald Brittain Award for Best Social/Political Documentary, the film is part of a cycle of films that Obomsawin has made on children’s welfare and rights.
Ellen is a mental health nurse. Brandon is a specially trained policeman. Together, they ride the streets of Toronto responding to 911 police calls involving “emotionally distressed persons.” Their mandate is not only to de-escalate crises, but to avoid unnecessary arrests and emergency room visits by providing appropriate referrals, services and resources within a patient's own community.
This feature documentary is an investigation into the effects of the chemicals we are all exposed to in our daily lives. The film begins with the filmmaker Barri Cohen’s own 10-year-old daughter, whose blood carries carcinogens like benzene and the long-banned DDT. Then, it heads out to Windsor and Sarnia: Canadian toxic hotspots, with startling clusters of deadly diseases. The film presents passionate activists working for positive change, along with doctors and scientists who see evidence of links between environmental pollution and health problems. Carried by Cohen's passion for truth and her disarming openness, this moving documentary is essential viewing for anyone concerned about the effects of pollutants on our - and our children's - very DNA.
Toxic Trespass is accompanied by a comprehensive guidebook for educators, activists and concerned citizens, produced by the Women's Healthy Environment Network.
In Montréal, the St. Jacques Citizens' Committee set up a community health clinic, aided by volunteer doctors, nurses, dentists and medical students. This film shows discussion, planning, and the clinic in operation, and presents its problems and advantages as seen both by medical workers and by local residents. Members of the Citizens' Committee participated in the making of the film, from original planning through filming, selecting and editing.
In this feature-length documentary, Alanis Obomsawin tells the story of Shannen’s Dream, a national campaign to provide equitable access to education in safe and suitable schools for First Nations children. Strong participation in this initiative eventually brings Shannen's Dream all the way to the United Nations in Geneva.
This story begins over a century ago, when the City of Winnipeg decides that the water surrounding the traditional Anishinaabe territory of what is now Shoal Lake 40 First Nation will be diverted and used as Winnipeg’s primary water source. The community, their ancient burial grounds, environment, and ways of life are forever disrupted, and access to opportunities and essential services are severed. Enforced residential schooling and a tainted water supply compound the devastating impact. Community leader and former combat engineer Daryl Redsky sheds light on how generations of complex planning, cultural preservation and mobilization have led us to the current moment—and to the construction of Freedom Road.
Freedom Road Series is a five-part documentary series that tells the inspiring story of one First Nation’s battle to resolve a brutal colonial legacy that uprooted and transformed a self-sustaining community into an isolated island, only a short distance from the Trans-Canada highway.