First Nations Director, Alanis Obomsawin

In this featured post, the spotlight is on acclaimed and distinguished First Nations Director, Producer and Order of Canada recipient Alanis Obomsawin and her celebrated body of work in the last 40 years. In one of her latest interviews (with Q), Alanis spoke of her recent documentaries Hi-Ho Mistahey! and The People of the Kattawapiskak River / Le peuple de la rivière Kattawapiskak and in particular of the sacredness of listening in her approach to capture the dignity that even the most impoverished people and communities like Kattawapiskak have found in their lives void of resources and opportunities.

Alanis’ documentaries expose the profound strength of Aboriginal and First Nations Peoples and put on full display the potential of history through documentaries to help overcome the impoverishment and loss of their histories. Having a history, Alanis reminds us, in particular “First Nations history”, “was denied to us”. “You can image all the work we have to do still”. “At every community, and every child that is growing should know its history, and as much as possible its language”. There is something terribly important, vital to the strength of the human soul to have a history and know your ancestors.

Her work has also served in the task of overcoming the epistemic gaps in non-Aboriginal – settler communities — in particular the kinds of epistemic gaps of information that can often become the source of further or new discrimination, prejudice and racism whenever there is new as well as old conflict over land, resources and rights. These documentaries help in continuing the education of the public on treaties and the facts surrounding the conflicts in Canada.

Select Films available on the National Film Board of Canada

Trick or Treaty (2014)
The People of the Kattawapiskak River / Le peuple de la rivière Kattawapiskak (2013)
Hi-Ho Mistahey! (2012)
Is the Crown at war with us? (2002)
Kanehsatake: 270 Years of Resistance (1993)

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