Legacies 150

Legacies 150

The films in our Legacies 150 playlist explore themes closely related to our Legacies 150 interactive photo essays, which reflect on legacy and inheritance a century and a half into Canadian Confederation. Like the first-person stories featured in these essays, our documentary playlist examines where we come from, who we are, and what kind of nation we are becoming.

A nation is a collection of stories. Where they overlap, they represent a shared experience and an intergenerational legacy. In their uniqueness, they underscore just how varied our individual lives are.

The Legacies 150 project started with the observation that traditional old-world definitions of “nation” as a people who share ethnicity, language, history, and culture don’t describe us very well. Our origin stories are all so vastly different.

Yet no matter how we came to be called and call ourselves Canadian, we now find ourselves together on a shared journey.

This playlist delves into some of the subjects highlighted in the interactive essays and initiates a dialogue with them through documentary filmmaking. You can watch the Legacies 150 interactive essays here.

  • Nowhere Land
    2015|15 min

    This short documentary is a quiet elegy for way of life, which exists now only in the memories of those who experienced it. Bonnie Ammaaq and her family remember it vividly. When Bonnie was a little girl, her parents packed up their essentials, bundled her and her younger brother onto a long, fur-lined sled called a qamutik, and left the government-manufactured community of Igloolik to live off the land as had generations of Inuit before them. For 11 years their home was not just the small shack called “Outpost Camp” but the entire vast and beautiful territory that lay outside its door. For them, the wild open tundra wasn’t just somewhere to live, it was somewhere -- whereas the settlement of Igloolik, with its raucous snowmobiles, flat and snowy landscapes and relative hustle-bustle, is unquestionably nowhere.

  • My Village in Nunavik
    1999|47 min

    Shot during 3 seasons, this documentary tenderly portrays village life in Puvirnituq on the shores of Hudson Bay in northern Quebec, as well as the elements that forge the character of its people: their history, the great open spaces and their unflagging humour.

    This film was directed by Bobby Kenuajuak, who was born in Puvirnituq in 1976. At age 23, he won a NFB contest for Indigenous filmmakers, which allowed him to produce this film.

  • In Canada
    2014|21 min

    20-minute, bilingual film features the personal stories and experiences of diverse immigrants to Canada from all over the world. The impressions and reflections shared in the film touch on the themes of Journey, Arrival and Belonging. in Canada is at times moving, funny and thought-provoking and will show you the personal side of the Canadian immigration experience.

  • Standing Tall
    2015|23 min

    In this short documentary, three French-speaking women (from Senegal, Mexico and Belgium) examine their own experiences as immigrants in Vancouver, where they raise their children alone. With strength and resilience, these women take up the challenge of rebuilding their lives to provide a “new world of possibility” for their children, while seeking to find their place in Canadian society.
    This film was made as part of the Tremplin program, in collaboration with Radio-Canada.

  • Between: Living in the Hyphen
    2005|43 min

    Anne Marie Nakagawa's documentary examines what it means to have a background of mixed ancestries that cannot be easily categorized. By focusing on 7 Canadians who have one parent from a European background and one of a visible minority, she attempts to get at the root of what it means to be multi-ethnic in a world that wants each person to fit into a single category.

    Finding a satisfactory frame of reference in our 'multicultural utopia' turns out to be more complex than one might think. Between: Living in the Hyphen offers a provocative glimpse of what the future holds: a departure from hyphenated names towards a celebration of fluidity and being mixed.

  • Postcards from Canada
    2000|41 min

    Sweeping in from the frozen vistas of the Arctic to the frenzy of rush-hour traffic, from deep within the Canadian Shield to the orbiting Radarsat satellite, Postcards from Canada takes us on a whimsical trip through this magnificent nation. Narrated by Peter Gzowski, this film shows us the wonder of the wilderness, the impact of Canadians on the land and the ingenuity we have shown in turning huge obstacles into advantages.

    Shot in stunning 35 mm, Postcards from Canada updates the popular 1967 film Helicopter Canada with breathtaking images and aerial photography. And like postcards themselves, these snapshots of Canada are tantalizing glimpses that will make you "wish you were here"--and be glad that you are.

  • Helicopter Canada
    1966|50 min

    This short documentary offers a narrated tour—from a helicopter—of the ten Canadian provinces in 1966. The result is a big, beautiful and engrossing bird's-eye portrait of the country. Nothing here is quite the same as seen before, even Niagara Falls. Canadians will be thrilled by this panoramic view of familiar territory. This film was produced for international distribution on the occasion of the Canadian centennial.

  • A Family for Maria
    1992|5 min

    An animated film for five- to eight-year-olds about international adoption and the difficulty of adapting to a new environment. The film also gives a glimpse into the problems of abandoned children in developing countries. In A Family for Maria/Une famille pour Maria, love triumphs over the insecurity of a little Latin American girl who finds a new family in North America.

  • 19 Days
    2016|26 min

    This short documentary follows several refugee families during their first 19 days in Canada, as they navigate an unfamiliar terrain that has suddenly become their home. Located in the quiet Calgary neighbourhood of Bridgeland, the Margaret Chisholm Resettlement Centre is the starting point for government-assisted refugees who arrive in the city. During the 19-day timeline established by the federal government, an initial assessment is done and refugees are assisted with everything from airport reception and orientation to referrals, documents, and counselling.

    19 Days reveals the human side of the refugee resettlement process. A unique look at the global migration crisis and one particular stage of asylum, it lays plain the realities faced on the difficult road towards integration.

  • Quiet Forces
    2015|15 min

    In this non-narrative short, director Sophie Dupuis documents the daily lives of sailors aboard the frigate HMCS Ottawa on a mission in the Pacific Ocean, somewhere between the coasts of British Columbia and California. Composed of a series of contrasting scenes, the film immerses us in a maelstrom of sound and images, revealing the unique facets of a widely unknown world.

  • An Enduring Tradition
    1960|58 min

    A documentary about the history of the Royal Canadian Navy in war and peace. Action footage, captured German film and archival material from Canadian and British sources make this a colourful, authentic record of a half-century of growth and expansion.

  • Atlantic Patrol
    1940|9 min

    This short documentary about the Canadian seamen who manned Canada's eastern ports during WWII is the first film in the Canada Carries On series. The film depicts the work of the Royal Canadian marines who accompanied convoys of military supplies to the Allied Forces and those who remained on the eastern coast to defend against the Germans.