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Honouring Indigenous Themes on National Canadian Film Day

April 22, 2020

What is National Canadian Film Day?

National Canadian Film Day logoNational Canadian Film Day (NCFD), held on April 22, was started by REEL Canada, a charitable organization that celebrates Canada through film. NCFD is a massive one-day, coast-to-coast-to-coast celebration of Canadian cinema. Why did they start it? Because “film – more than any other medium – has the power to capture the soul of a nation, and when we only watch movies from somewhere else, we lose a part of ourselves… there’s no substitute for the connection you can feel when you watch something from your own backyard” (Source: About NCFD). With that mission in mind, NCFD was born.

Honouring Indigenous Themes Through Canadian Film

We delved into the Library’s online video collection and found a number of Canadian productions based on Indigenous themes. Here is a selection of streaming titles that you can enjoy at home (log in may be required).

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PASS SYSTEM (Toronto : V Tape, 2015)

Pass system

The Pass System illuminates Canada’s hidden history of racial segregation. For over 60 years, the Canadian government often denied Indigenous peoples the basic freedom to leave their reserves without a pass. Cree, Saulteaux, Dene, Ojibwe and Blackfoot elders of the prairie land where this took place tell their stories of living under and resisting the system, and link their experiences to today.

 

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STOLEN SISTERS (Toronto : V Tape, 2015)

Stolen sisters

Stolen Sisters takes viewers inside the contentious issue of missing and murdered Aboriginal women, from the rolling farmland of Saskatchewan to the haunting depths of the dark alleys in Vancouver’s dangerous Hastings district. You will hear the stories of the missing and witness one family’s desperate search for their loved one.

 

WE WERE CHILDREN (Montreal : National Film Board of Canada, 2012)

We were children

In this emotional film, the profound impact of the Canadian government’s residential school system is conveyed unflinchingly through the eyes of two children who were forced to face hardships beyond their years. We Were Children gives voice to a national tragedy and demonstrates the incredible resilience of the human spirit.

 

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DANCING AROUND THE TABLE (Ottawa : National Film Board of Canada, 2013)

Dancing around the table (Part one and two)

Part One provides a fascinating look at the crucial role Indigenous people played in shaping the Canadian Constitution. Part Two charts the battle to enshrine Indigenous rights in the Canadian Constitution, capturing a key moment in Canada’s history from the perspective of Indigenous negotiators.

 

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HISTORY OF TREATIES IN CANADA (Pembroke, ON : LeMay Media, 2016)

History of treaties in Canada

From the Royal Proclamation of 1763 to the implementation on of the modern-day Algonquin land claim, The History of Treaties in Canada explores the history, application on 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.

 

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NO TURNING BACK (Montreal : National Film Board of Canada, 2013)

No turning back

For two-and-a-half years, Edmonton director Greg Coyes, worked with teams of Native filmmakers, following the Commission on its journey from coast to coast. The video weaves the passionate and articulate voices of Indian, Inuit, and Metis people with the history of Canada’s relationship with its First Nations peoples.

 

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BEHIND THE MASKS (Ottawa : National Film Board of Canada, 2013)

Behind the masks

A fascinating look at the meaning behind the masks of Indian tribes of the North Pacific coast. Expositor and lecturer is Professor Levi-Strauss of Paris, world-renowned anthropologist and authority on the structural analysis of myth.

 

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KEEPERS OF THE FIRE (Montreal : National Film Board of Canada, 2007)

Keepers of the fire

Mohawk and Haida, Maliseet and Ojibwe these are the voices of ‘warrior women’ — those who have been on the front lines of some of the most important struggles Aboriginal people have faced in the latter part of the 20th century.

 

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FOR ANGELA (Montreal : National Film Board of Canada, 2013)

For Angela

A dramatic story of racism and empowerment, inspired by the experience of Rhonda Gordon and her daughter Angela. A bus ride changed their lives in a way no one could have foreseen. When three boys harass Rhonda and Angela, Rhonda finds the courage and determination to take a unique and powerful stand against ignorance and prejudice.

 

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PATRICK’S STORY (Montreal : National Film Board of Canada, 2013)

Patrick’s story

Patrick Bird was “a casualty of colonialism,” having walked a dark boyhood journey of sexual abuse, neglect, foster homes, detention centres, loss, abadonment, drugs, alcohol, and self-mutilation. With the help of friends and his loving adoptive mother, Patrick begins the search for his identity and spirituality as a Cree man, while discovering his talents in music and acting.

 

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MISSING AND MURDERED ABORIGINAL WOMEN IN CANADA (Orangeville, ON : McIntyre Media, 2016)

Missing and murdered Aboriginal women in Canada

Violence against women is also a serious issue in Canada, unfortunately. One particular group of Canadian women merit special attention: Indigenous women and girls in Canada experience a scale and severity of violence that constitutes a national human rights crisis. The issue of violence against Aboriginal women and girls is a systematic one with deep roots in sexism, poverty and racism.

 

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SACRED SUNDANCE (Montreal : National Film Board of Canada, 2008)

Sacred Sundance

Under a sweltering July sky, participants in the sacred Sundance ceremony go four days without food or water. At the end of the gruelling experience they will pierce the flesh of their chests in an offering to the Creator. The Sundance is a ritual long misunderstood, and once banned – but one that is now helping to bring personal and social healing to East Coast Aboriginal communities.

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