Music is a universal language, one we can use to learn about history, culture, and identity. This playlist features films that highlight the bounty of Indigenous music from Canada.
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Films in This Playlist Include
The Ballad of Crowfoot
The Fiddlers of James Bay
First Stories - His Guidance (Okiskinotahewewin)
Florent Vollant: I Dream in Innu
How the Fiddle Flows
Innu-Aimun - The Innu Language
RUMBLE: The Indians Who Rocked the World
Road Forward ,The
Stories from Our Land - Inngiruti: The Thing that Sings!
Urban.Indigenous.Proud: Full Circle
RUMBLE: The Indians Who Rocked the World tells the story of a profound, essential, and, until now, missing chapter in the history of American music: the Indigenous influence. Featuring music icons like Charley Patton, Mildred Bailey, Link Wray, Jimi Hendrix, Jesse Ed Davis, Buffy Sainte-Marie, Robbie Robertson, Randy Castillo, RUMBLE will show how these talented Native musicians helped shape the soundtracks of our lives.
Released in 1968 and often referred to as Canada’s first music video, The Ballad of Crowfoot was directed by Willie Dunn, a Mi’kmaq/Scottish folk singer and activist who was part of the historic Indian Film Crew, the first all-Indigenous production unit at the NFB. The film is a powerful look at colonial betrayals, told through a striking montage of archival images and a ballad composed by Dunn himself about the legendary 19th-century Siksika (Blackfoot) chief who negotiated Treaty 7 on behalf of the Blackfoot Confederacy. The IFC’s inaugural release, Crowfoot was the first Indigenous-directed film to be made at the NFB.
It's high summer in southern Saskatchewan and a rollicking tune fills the night. Four master Metis fiddlers play to the tapping toes of a lively crowd.
How the Fiddle Flows follows Canada's great rivers west along the fur-trading route of the early Europeans. The newcomers introduced the fiddle to the Aboriginal people they intermarried with along the way. A generation later, their mixed-blood offspring would blend European folk tunes with First Nations rhythms to create a rich and distinct musical tradition.
From the Gaspé Peninsula, north to Hudson Bay and to the Prairies, How the Fiddle Flows reveals how a distinctive Metis identity and culture were shaped over time. Featuring soaring performances by some of Canada's best known fiddlers and step dancers and narrated by award-winning actress Tantoo Cardinal.
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.
In this evocative short documentary, Inuk singer-songwriter and humanitarian Susan Aglukark weaves together stories of artistry, family, and belonging as she explores the complex cultural shifts of the last 50 years of Inuit life. Turning her lens on the turbulence of colonial transition, director Nyla Innuksuk examines the forces that shaped Aglukark's voice and how that voice is now being translated for a new generation of Inuit artists.Produced by the National Film Board of Canada in co-operation with the National Arts Centre and the Governor General's Performing Arts Awards Foundation on the occasion of the 2016 Governor General's Performing Arts Awards.
Since its inception in 1976, Toronto Council Fire Native Cultural Centre has been a place in which the urban Indigenous community could feel safe, learn and grow. Council Fire uses cultural teachings and creates space to restore Indigenous identity, especially for its youth. At the core of Council Fire’s history and teachings is the drum, which they refer to as “our mother.” In Full Circle, we get to know the members of the Toronto Council Fire Youth Program as they embark on new journeys. We meet a drum group that lays down tracks at a professional recording studio and a group of young dancers who showcase their moves at a dance studio.
This short documentary traces the history of the fiddle’s arrival in Canada 300 years ago via Scottish traders from Orkney Island. The Cree population of what is now Northern Québec adopted the instrument, and many contemporary Cree residents are master fiddlers. In this film, two Cree fiddlers travel to the Orkney Islands, the birthplace of the music they learned from their fathers and grandfathers. The film captures the warmth and good will of this reunion.
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 beautiful music video featuring the talented group Uashtushkuau singing an emotional song, in Innu, about the importance of protecting Aboriginal languages. Since 2004, the travelling studios of Wapikoni Mobile have enabled Quebec First Nations youth to express themselves through videos and music. This short film was made with the guidance of these travelling studios and is part of the 2008 Selection - Wapikoni Mobile DVD.
An adventurous young boy and his determined mother share a passion for Inuit drum dancing in Happy Valley-Goose Bay. Evan’s Drum is a joyful visit to a family’s loving home, and an uplifting story of cultural pride. After generations of silence, the rhythm of the traditional Inuit drum has returned to Labrador, and seven-year-old Evan is part of the new generation that will keep its heartbeat strong.
Also available in Inuktitut!
This film discusses topics of trauma and abuse. Viewer discretion is advised.
Ever Deadly is an immersive, visceral music and cinema experience featuring Tanya Tagaq, avant-garde Inuk throat singer, and created in collaboration with award-winning filmmaker Chelsea McMullan. This documentary explores Tagaq’s transformation of sound with an eye to colonial fallout, natural freedom and Canadian history.
We witness Tagaq’s intimate relationship with the Nuna—the Land—a living, breathing organism present in all forms of her improvised performances. Ever Deadly weaves concert footage with stunning sequences filmed on location in Nunavut, seamlessly bridging landscapes, stories and songs with pain, anger and triumph—all through the expressions of one of the most innovative musical performers of our time.