The NFB and National Indigenous Peoples Day

21 Jun

(To Wake Up the Nakota Language by Louise BigEagle. Photo: © Taryn Snell/NFB)

For National Indigenous Peoples Day (June 21), the National Film Board of Canada (NFB) is marking the second anniversary of the launch of its Indigenous Action Plan with a slate of 40 Indigenous-led works in development, production or recent release—while delivering on a commitment to devote a minimum of 15% of its production spending on Indigenous works, one year ahead of schedule.

The NFB’s Indigenous Action Plan is a response to the TRC’s calls to action and systemic inequities in Canada’s screen sector facing Indigenous creators. The plan was drafted in collaboration with an Indigenous advisory group and contains 33 commitments in four main areas: organizational transformation, industry leadership, production, and distribution. In its plan include advances in community engagement, online accessibility, educational resources, and hiring, as well as adopting new industry protocols for working with Indigenous creators and content.

“Over the last two years, the NFB has worked diligently and consistently in implementing its Indigenous Action Plan,” said Jason Ryle, speaking on behalf of the Indigenous Advisory Group. “During this time, the NFB has demonstrated that a determined leadership within a large national institution can take decisive, timely, and practical actions that support Indigenous filmmakers, productions, and capacity—and lead to positive change. The Advisory Group is particularly pleased to see so many Indigenous-led projects in development and production and congratulates all those involved for the successes achieved to date, while we also look forward to what is to come.”

“This current and upcoming body of work by Indigenous filmmakers brings together talented artists from across Canada, who are bringing vital stories and perspectives to Canadian and international screens. Together, they are helping to define the future of Indigenous cinema, strengthening Indigenous communities, and changing how we understand each other and share this land,” said Claude Joli-Coeur, NFB Chairperson. “At the NFB, we’re working hard to honour the commitments in our action plan, and I’m profoundly grateful to the Indigenous advisory group for continuing to work with us and guide us in this process.”

Production highlights include:

  • Tasha Hubbard’s award-winning feature doc nîpawistamâsowin: We Will Stand Up (Downstream Documentary Productions/NFB in association with CBC DOCSand APTN), following the aftermath of the shooting death of Colten Boushie. The first Indigenous film to open Hot Docs, it’s currently in theatres across Canada.
  • Michelle Latimer’s feature doc The Inconvenient Indian, an adaptation of Thomas King’s The Inconvenient Indian: A Curious Account of Native People in North America, is currently winding up production. Co-produced by 90th Parallel and the NFB, with Jesse Wente as creative producer.
  • Kim O’Bomsawin’s Nin, Auass, an intimate feature doc portrait of the experience of early childhood in the communities of Pessamit, Manawan and Whapmagoostui, currently in production.
  • Alanis Obomsawin’s upcoming documentary Jordan’s Principle (working title), her 53rd film in a legendary NFB career.
  • Urban.Indigenous.Proud, a partnership between the Ontario Federation of Indigenous Friendship Centres and the NFB, exploring urban Indigenous culture and lived experiences within five Friendship Centre communities.
  • Angelina McLeod’s recently completed short doc series Freedom Road, about Shoal Lake 40, a First Nations community separated for 100 years from the mainland because of an aqueduct built to supply water to Winnipeg.
  • An all-Indigenous edition of the NFB’s Animation Mentorship Program, Hothouse, in partnership with the imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival, with emerging animators Meky Ottawa, Kassia Ward, and Chris Grant currently in production on a short film. This 12th season of Hothouse has also created mentorship opportunities for Indigenous associate producers Amanda Strong and Amanda Roy, who bring a wealth of Indigenous storytelling experience to the project.
  • Meneath, an augmented reality project by Terril Calder, which explores the seven deadly sins as defined in Christianity alongside the seven sacred teachings as defined by Native spirituality.
  • Multimedia installations from Indigenous artists: Caroline Monnet and Ludovic Boney’s Hydro, an installation at the Musée de Joliette from February 2 to May 5, 2019; and from now until July 13 at Victoria’s Open Space, Dominic Lafontaine and Jessie Short’s Neither One Nor the Other (Ni l’un, ni l’autre), developed during the second edition of Déranger, a creative lab for Inuit, Métis and First Nations multidisciplinary artists working in the French language.
  • The NFB was also one of several organizations to provide financial support to the imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival for the creation of On-Screen Protocols & Pathways: A Media Production Guide to Working with First Nations, Métis and Inuit Communities, Cultures, Concepts and Stories, released in March of 2019. The NFB is applying the principles outlined in the media production guide across its slate of productions—a process based on respect, reciprocity, humility, meaningful collaboration, and consent.

Other Year Two highlights include:

  • The Aabiziingwashi (Wide Awake) Indigenous Cinema Tour of Indigenous-directed titles from the NFB’s collection has surpassed 1,300 screenings to date, in every province and territory. The tour is working with partners to bring Indigenous cinema and discussions to communities big and small across Canada. New titles for 2019 will include nîpawistamâsowin: We Will Stand Up, Freedom Road, Jordan’s Principle and Christopher Auchter’s Now Is the Time.
  • Launched in early 2018, Indigenous Cinema is the NFB’s rich online collection of Indigenous-made films, now featuring more than 300 titles for free. To help mark National Indigenous Peoples Day 2019, new titles include award-winning films like Birth of a Family by Tasha Hubbard, Three Thousand by Asinnajaq and Holy Angelsby Jay Cardinal Villeneuve (starting June 17); along with the premiere of the five films from Urban.Indigenous.Proud: Kristi Lane Sinclair’s Full Circle, Darlene Naponse’s Places to Gather and Learn, Clayton Windatt’s Some Stories…, Jamie Whitecrow’s The Old Game Lacrosse and Tracie Louttit’s Zaagi’idiwin (starting June 21).
  • A trusted source of quality educational content for schools across Canada, the NFB will soon be launching a new online educational experience that draws from the NFB collection, providing Indigenous perspectives on the history and culture of Indigenous peoples in Canada, and geared for students in grades 9 to 12.
  • Indigenous employees now represent 1.25% of all staff at the NFB. The NFB has committed to achieving 4% Indigenous representation across all sectors and levels of the NFB’s workforce—a minimum of 16 Indigenous team members—by 2025.

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