NFB Indigenous Cinema Collection

With the discovery of 215 children buried at a former residential school in Kamloops, the horrifying legacy of the residential school system shows us that the painful roots of colonialism and white supremacy in Canada is even deeper and more painful than a lot of us have given the time or energy to comprehend. Film offers us the chance to start to listen, learn and bring the full our attention to the stories of survivors and the generational impact of this trauma.

June is National Indigenous History Month and we’re sharing the rich, online collection of Indigenous-made films available online for free from the National Film Board. You can view the entire Indigenous Cinema collection here and we’ve also highlighted a few, below. A 24-hour crisis line has been set up to provide support for survivors and those affected by residential schools with access to emotional and crisis referral services. 1-866-925-4419.

Photo from nîpawistamâsowin: We Will Stand Up © Melissa Kent / CBC Licensing (film description below)


Holy Angels

Jay Cardinal Villeneuve

2017 | 13 min

In 1963, Lena Wandering Spirit became one of the more than 150,000 Indigenous children who were removed from their families and sent to residential school. Jay Cardinal Villeneuve’s short documentary Holy Angels powerfully recaptures Canada’s colonialist history through impressionistic images and the fragmented language of a child. Villeneuve met Lena through his work as a videographer with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Filmed with a fierce determination to not only uncover history but move past it, Holy Angels speaks of the resilience of a people who have found ways of healing—and of coming home again.

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In the Beginning was Water and Sky

Ryan Ward

2018 | 13 min

In this haunting and visually stunning fairy tale-drama, two First Nations children struggle to find their way back to a home that may be lost forever.

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nîpawistamâsowin: We Will Stand Up

Tasha Hubbard

2019 | 1 h 38 min

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.

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Freedom Road Series

Angelina McLeod

2019| 5 films in the series

Freedom Road is a five-part documentary series that tells the inspiring story of Shoal Lake 40 Anishinaabe First Nation and their battle to build a road, after their community was forcibly relocated and cut off from the mainland over 100 years ago, so that water could be diverted to the city of Winnipeg. Director and Shoal Lake 40 member Angelina McLeod uses an innovative, community-driven approach to storytelling that highlights the community’s dignity, strength and perseverance, as they take back control of their narrative and their future in the process of building Freedom Road.

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