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.
François Paulette has devoted more than 25 years of his life to resolving a battle that is more than a century old. Senior negotiator for the Smith's Landing First Nation, Paulette is determined to see the Canadian government honor promises made to the Thebatthi (Chipewyan) people in an 1899 treaty. Shot in northern Alberta and Ottawa, Honour of the Crown is a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at the turbulent final years of this fight. Plunged into seemingly endless negotiations, Paulette and his brother, Chief Jerry Paulette, struggle to reclaim nine tracts of land and $33 million in compensation. Featuring interviews with tribal, provincial and federal government representatives, this documentary provides a rare glimpse into one community's success in settling a one-hundred-year-old treaty obligation of the Crown.
It was the summer of 2000 and the country watched with disbelief as federal fishery officers appeared to wage war on the Mi’gmaq fishermen of Esgenoopetitj (Burnt Church), New Brunswick. Why would officials of the Canadian government attack citizens for exercising rights that had been affirmed by the highest court in the land? What happened at Burnt Church? These questions are explored within the film.
Zacharias Kunuk travels to Edmonton to meet Kiviaq, Canada's first Inuit lawyer, former Golden Gloves boxing champion, city alderman, and the only Inuk to play with the Edmonton Eskimos football team. Kiviaq is currently suing the federal government of Canada with a claim demanding equal rights for Inuit, whom, he argues, are neither defined in law nor granted the same privileges as other Indigenous people.
This short documentary by Alanis Obomsawin tells the story of Kahentiiosta, a young Kahnawake Mohawk woman arrested after the Oka Crisis' 78-day armed standoff in 1990. She was detained 4 days longer than the other women. Her crime? The prosecutor representing the Quebec government did not accept her Indigenous name.
This film follows the aftermath of the Oka crisis, which brought Indigenous rights into sharp focus. After the barricades came down, the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples was created, and travelled to more than 100 communities and heard from more than 1,000 representatives. For two-and-a-half years, teams of Indigenous filmmakers followed the Commission on its journey.
On August 9, 2016, a young Cree man named Colten Boushie died from a gunshot to the back of his head after entering Gerald Stanley’s rural property with his friends. The jury’s subsequent acquittal of Stanley captured international attention, raising questions about racism embedded within Canada’s legal system and propelling Colten’s family to national and international stages in their pursuit of justice. Sensitively directed by Tasha Hubbard, nîpawistamâsowin: We Will Stand Up weaves a profound narrative encompassing the filmmaker’s own adoption, the stark history of colonialism on the Prairies, and a vision of a future where Indigenous children can live safely on their homelands. See the 52-minute version here.
In this feature-length documentary, Indigenous filmmaker and artist Alanis Obomsawin chronicles the determination and tenacity of the Listuguj Mi'kmaq people to use and manage the natural resources of their traditional lands. The film provides a contemporary perspective on the Mi'kmaq people's ongoing struggle and ultimate success, culminating in the community receiving an award for Best Managed River from the same government that had denied their traditional rights.
John Borrows is one of Canada's most prolific and celebrated legal scholars and a professor of law at the University of Minnesota. Borrows, who is Anishinaabe and a member of the Cape Croker First Nation in Ontario's Bruce Peninsula, has written and spoken widely on aboriginal legal rights and traditions, treaties and land claims, and religion and the law. He points out that the treaties are two-way agreements that affect the rights of both indigenous and non-indigenous Canadians - and they were meant to guide the relationships between the two groups forever. They granted rights to people on both sides, but they imposed obligations too. And those obligations and rights can help us live peacefully with each other and with nature. In this Green Interview, Borrows offers a bracing vision of what law really is, where it finds its roots and its authority, and how aboriginal law fits into the Canadian legal fabric.
On August 28, 1990, a convoy of 75 cars left the Mohawk community of Kahnawake and crossed Montreal’s Mercier Bridge-- straight into an angry mob that pelted the vehicles with rocks. The targets of this violence were Mohawk women, children and elders leaving Kahnawake, in fear of a possible advance by the Canadian army. This film looks back at the events surrounding the attack, and delves into the history of Kahnawake and the consequences of the appropriation of land that have shrunk its territory by more than two-thirds over the last 300 years.
This is the story of two police officers in Saskatoon dumping aboriginal people in a barren field on the city outskirts at below freezing temperatures. One of the victims comes forward with his story and sets into motion a major RCMP investigation into several suspicious deaths, conviction of the two constables who abandoned him, and the reopening of an old case, leading to a judicial inquiry.
The rights of First Nations children take centre stage in this monumental documentary. Following a historic court case filed by the Assembly of First Nations and the Child and Family Caring Society of Canada against the federal government, Alanis Obomsawin exposes generations of injustices endured by First Nations children living on reserves and their families. Through passionate testimony and unwavering conviction, frontline childcare workers and experts including Cindy Blackstock take part in a decade-long court battle to ensure these children receive the same level of care as other Canadian children. Their case against Canada is a stark reminder of the disparities that persist in First Nations communities and the urgent need for justice to be served.
Released in 1969, this short documentary was one of the most influential and widely distributed productions made by the Indian Film Crew (IFC), the first all-Indigenous unit at the NFB. It documents a 1969 protest by the Kanien’kéhaka (Mohawk) of Akwesasne, a territory that straddles the Canada–U.S. border. When Canadian authorities prohibited the duty-free cross-border passage of personal purchases—a right established by the Jay Treaty of 1794—Kanien’kéhaka protesters blocked the international bridge between Ontario and New York State. Director Michael Kanentakeron Mitchell later became Grand Chief of Akwesasne. The film was formally credited to him in 2017. You Are on Indian Land screened extensively across the continent, helping to mobilize a new wave of Indigenous activism. It notably was shown at the 1970 occupation of Alcatraz.
This 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 the aftermath of the Battle of Batoche, the Canadian government offered “scrip,” a coupon to be traded for land and money to Métis residing the Northwest Territories including present-day Alberta. The scrip system was flawed for many reasons, resulting in the systematic loss of Métis lands. The scrip commissions were advertised in newspapers and on posters. It is believed that the purpose of one of these advertisements was to alert speculators. There was also no protection against fraud — many had their names forged without their knowledge. As a general practice, land speculators bought scrip from Métis at very low prices and then sold it to the main chartered banks in Canada. Out of the 14,849 issued, land speculators ended up obtaining 12,560 money scrips.
In February, 2007, the First Nations Child & Family Caring Society and Assembly of First Nations filed a human rights complaint alleging that the federal government's provision of First Nations child and family services on reserves was inequitable and thus discriminatory under the Canadian Human Rights Act. On January 26, 2016, the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal issued a landmark ruling that found Canada guilty of racial discrimination against First Nations children. Featuring interviews with the Caring Society’s pro bono legal team, this short film explores the history and significance of this historic case through a legal lens. Thoughtful and engaging, the film is a must watch for legal professionals, educators, activists, and young people alike.
Katrina is a member of Algonquin First Nation. A student in criminal justice with a minor in Native Studies, she speaks about the importance of Indigenous perspectives within law. She is learning about her culture, and how indigenous people are currently oppressed in the justice system. She wants to help First Nations people learn about their rights and to help improve the judicial system in future.
Sarain and Kris explore Indigenous concepts of Justice, from restorative justice to cultural programs in the prison system. Lawyer Sara Mainville offers her insights into Indigenous concepts of Justice and criminality. Using food to build community Johl Whiteduck Ringuette prepares lunch for Kris and Sarain at NishDish Marketeria. On the Sacred Grounds at the Collins Bay Penitentiary in Kingston, they talk with Elder Jim Johnson who brings ceremony, cultural support and medicines to the male inmates.
The History of Treaties in Canada: From the Royal Proclamation of 1763 to the implementation of the modern-day Algonquin land claim, The History of Treaties in Canada explores the history, application and legacy of these foundational legal documents and how they continue to shape and define the often strained relationships between First Nations and the Crown in Canada. Written and produced by award-winning Métis filmmaker Matt LeMay.
Filmmaker Bio: An award-winning Métis filmmaker, Matt LeMay is an innovator in the field of educational documentary film. He has channelled his passion for addressing social issues that impact First Nations and Métis communities into documentaries that showcase the power of Indigenous storytelling and the importance of protecting the natural environment.
Jamie is from Gjoa Haven, Nunavut. He speaks about Inuit rights and how he plans to use the knowledge he gains in his law education program to advance rights and free governance for Inuit people. As a young Innu, he grew up with traditional beliefs; he aspires to become a leader who inspires others to lead, and hopes to find ways of incorporating traditional Inuit ideas into western law; helping offenders understand the impact of their transgressions is more effective than punishment.