Written by Joanna, staff member, Halifax Central Library.
Today, in honour of Indigenous History Month and beyond, we share a collection of National Film Board of Canada films created and produced by Indigenous filmmakers.
“We’re here because the people before us loved us so much.” -Tasha Hubbard to her son and nephew
What is reconciliation? How can Canada amend the wrongs done to Indigenous people since European colonization, when so many wrongs continue to be committed to this very day?
The documentaries nîpawistamâsowin: We Will Stand Up, and Jordan River Anderson: The Messenger, both produced by the National Film Board of Canada, address many overlapping themes. Most importantly, in so many ways, Canada is still struggling to meet the basic human rights of Indigenous people.
Where is the justice when a young man is shot for trespassing, evidence is mishandled, and a jury composed entirely of white people acquits the defendant? Where is the justice when a family is separated because federal and provincial governments cannot agree on who should pay for a severely disabled child's care? Would this happen if the child were not Indigenous?
nîpawistamâsowin: We Will Stand Up
nîpawistamâsowin: We Will Stand Up (2019), chronicles the murder of Colten Boushie, the consequent trial and acquittal of Gerald Stanley, and Colten’s family’s fight for justice. Filmmaker Tasha Hubbard weaves the story of Colten’s death against her concerns for Indigenous people going forward. Will her son and nephew grow up to be seen as a threat because they are Indigenous? The man who killed Colten Boushie, a white farmer, was acquitted of the crime, but can one say the result was just when not a single Indigenous person sat on the jury? Colten’s sister, Jade, is a fierce advocate for the family, taking their fight to the federal government and then on to the United Nations.
Watch: nîpawistamasowin, We Will Stand up | Tasha Hubbard | 2019 | 1 h 38
Jordan River Anderson: The Messenger
Jordan River Anderson: The Messenger (2019), directed by Alanis Obamsawin, documents the fight for Indigenous children to have access to the same health care as their non-Indigenous counterparts. Jordan River Anderson was born in 1999 with multiple disabilities. Because of these disabilities, Jordan required constant care, but neither the federal nor provincial governments could agree on who should pay because he was from a reserve. As a result, Jordan lived out his short life in a hospital in Winnipeg, thousands of kilometres from his family in Norway House. Because of Jordan’s situation, Jordan’s Principle was passed in 1997 decreeing that all indigenous children, both on and off reserve, should have equitable access to public services. The film documents how even though this principle was introduced, it was still a struggle for families to acquire the services they needed for their children. Advocates such as Cindy Blackstock championed the fight to make these services more readily accessible.
Watch: Jordan River Anderson, The Messenger | Alanis Obomsawin | 2019 | 1 h 5
Additional longer form films
The Whale and the Raven | Mirjam Leuze | 2019 | 1 h 41
The Road Forward | Marie Clements | 2017 | 1 h 41
The National Film Board has also released several shorter films by several Indigenous filmmakers.
K'i Tah Amongst the Birch
K'i Tah Amongst the Birch presents a day at a camp in the Northwest Territories.
Watch: K'i Tah Amongst the Birch | Melaw Nakehk’o | 2020 | 10 min | Part of THE CURVE, a collection of social distancing stories
Delia 9 to 5
Delia 9 to 5 is a wry look at the life of a mother who is eight months pregnant.
Watch: Delia 9 to 5 | Delia Gunn | 2018 | 5 min
Very Present (5 min) explores confinement and our experiences of time.
Nbisiing portrays the filmmaker's efforts to confront his fears and connect with ancestors.
Watch: Nbisiing | Cole Forrest | 2020 | 5 min | Part of THE CURVE, a collection of social distancing stories
More short films
Very Present |Conor McNally | 2020 | 5 min Part of THE CURVE, a collection of social distancing stories
Now is the time | Christopher Auchter | 2019 | 16 min
Urban Indigenous Proud Series |Tracie Louttit, Darlene Naponse, Kristi Lane Sinclair, JL Whitecrow, Clayton Windatt| 2018 | 5 episodes from 7 to 10 minutes
Three Thousand | Asinnajaq | 2017 | 14 min