On September 30, we recognize the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. On this national day of reflection, we remember and mourn for the children and for the generations of Indigenous people hurt by the residential school system. The National Day for Truth and Reconciliation is a direct response to Call to Action 80, which called for a federal statutory day of commemoration.
We also recognize Orange Shirt Day, held on this day to bring awareness to the history of residential schools and their negative effects on children’s self-esteem and well-being. Orange Shirt Day was first observed in 2013 at St. Joseph Mission in Williams Lake, British Columbia, where, in 1973, Phyllis (Jack) Webstad had her new orange shirt taken away on her first day of residential school. She never saw the shirt again. We wear orange to show our commitment to recognizing and remembering the approximately 150,000 children forced to attend residential schools, where many experienced shame, deprivation, and abuse, as well as more than 6,000 students who did not survive.
Learn more about the impact of residential schools by exploring a selection of books, ebooks and streaming video.
In acknowledgement of the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, we are screening 11 NFB short films by Indigenous film makers in Library Classroom B. Everyone is welcome to drop in at any time during the hours of 9am and 6pm to watch, listen, learn and reflect.
We also encourage you to write a review for any of the films you see on the NFB website. This action is inspired by a #Next150 Challenge to engage with Indigenous cinema and continue our learning.
List of films (with thanks to the National Film Board)
Nunavut Animation Lab: I Am But a Little Woman
Gyu Oh 2010 | 4 min
Inspired by an Inuit poem first assigned to paper in 1927, this animated short evokes the beauty and power of nature, as well as the bond between mother and daughter. As her daughter looks on, an Inuit woman creates a wall hanging filled with images of the spectacular Arctic landscape and traditional Inuit objects and iconography. Soon the boundaries between art and reality begin to dissolve.
Stories from Our Land 1.5: Tide
Ericka Chemko 2012 | 4 min
This beautiful short film captures the majesty of ice sculpted by wind and water. By using time-lapse imagery, Iqaluit filmmaker Ericka Chemko reveals the dynamic intertidal dance of water and ice in the Arctic.
Stories Are in Our Bones
Janine Windolph 2019 | 11 min
In this layered short film, filmmaker Janine Windolph takes her young sons fishing with their kokum (grandmother), a residential school survivor who retains a deep knowledge and memory of the land. The act of reconnecting with their homeland is a cultural and familial healing journey for the boys, who are growing up in the city. It’s also a powerful form of resistance for the women.
Phyllis Grant 2010 | 6 min
Waseteg is the story of a young Mi’kmaq girl whose name means “the light from the dawn.” Sadly, her mother dies while giving birth and, though her father works very hard to provide for his family, Waseteg is surrounded by the bitterness and loneliness felt by her sisters.
As a young girl, Waseteg looks for solace in nature, and dreams of the stories she’s heard in the village – including one about Walqwan, the mysterious boy living across the river. Eventually, with the gentle care of the boy’s grandmother, Waseteg succeeds in finding Walqwan, discovering the Spirit Path, and restoring love to her family.
A short story about dreams, courage, identity, creation and embracing our Elders, Waseteg showcases Phyllis Grant’s signature style of bold lines, bright colours and simple movements. The film is beautifully narrated by legendary filmmaker Alanis Obomsawin.
Vistas: Dancers of the Grass
Melanie Jackson 2009 | 2 min
This short film presents a stunning display of a stop-motion animation as it vividly depicts the majesty of the hoop dance, a tradition symbolizing the unity of all nations.
Stories from Our Land 1.5: Inngiruti – The Thing that Sings!
Nyla Innuksuk 2012 | 5 min
This short documentary filmed in Pangnirtung features 2 elders reminiscing about the dances held in their community 50 years ago. One of the elders is master accordion player Simeonie Keenainak, and soon he’s making toe-tapping music with his instrument. In this celebration of the pleasures of music and dance, Keenainak plays for the enjoyment of friends, family, and the community at large.
To Wake Up the Nakota Language
Louise BigEagle 2017 | 6 min
“When you don’t know your language or your culture, you don’t know who you are,” says 69-year-old Armand McArthur, one of the last fluent Nakota speakers in Pheasant Rump First Nation, Treaty 4 territory, in southern Saskatchewan. Through the wisdom of his words, Armand is committed to revitalizing his language and culture for his community and future generations.
The Mountain of SGaana
Christopher Auchter 2017 | 10 min
In The Mountain of SGaana, Haida filmmaker Christopher Auchter spins a magical tale of a young man who is stolen away to the spirit world, and the young woman who rescues him. The film brilliantly combines traditional animation with formal elements of Haida art, and is based on a story inspired by a old Haida fable.
Nyla Innuksuk 2016 | 4 min
In this evocative short documentary, Inuk singer-songwriter and humanitarian Susan Aglukark weaves together stories of artistry, family, and belonging as she explores the complex cultural shifts of the last 50 years of Inuit life. Turning her lens on the turbulence of colonial transition, director Nyla Innuksuk examines the forces that shaped Aglukark’s voice and how that voice is now being translated for a new generation of Inuit artists.
Produced by the National Film Board of Canada in co-operation with the National Arts Centre and the Governor General’s Performing Arts Awards Foundation on the occasion of the 2016 Governor General’s Performing Arts Awards.
Echo Henoche 2017 | 5 min
This animated short tells the story of a ferocious polar bear turned to stone by an Inuk shaman. The tale is based on emerging filmmaker Echo Henoche’s favourite legend, as told to her by her grandfather in her home community of Nain, Nunatsiavut, on Labrador’s North Coast. Hand-drawn and painted by Henoche in a style all her own, Shaman is the first collaboration between the Labrador artist and the NFB.
Stories from Our Land 1.5: If You Want to Get Married… You Have to Learn How to Build an Igloo!
Allen Auksaq 2011 | 5 min
In the spirit of the 1949 NFB classic How to Build an Igloo, this short film records Dean Ittuksarjuat as he constructs the traditional Inuit home. From the first cut of the snow knife, to the carving of the entrance after the last block of snow has been placed on the roof, this is an inside-and-out look at the entire fascinating process.