Module 2-Post 1: Aboriginal Filmmaker- Alanis Obomsawin: Paul Waterlander

Canadian Aboriginal filmmaker Alanis Obomsawin has successfully created a long list of some of Canada’s best Aboriginal-based documentary films.  Ms. Obomsawin got her start in filmmaking after realizing how the voices of Canada’s First Nations were a) hard to find, or b) made by non-Aboriginal filmmakers.  She was determined to change this!

Each of Ms. Obomsawin’s films is genuine and authentic to the Aboriginal perspective.  That she herself is of Abenaki descent gives her access to communities that may not be open to outsiders.

In her film Kahnesatake: 270 Years of Resistance, Obomsawin goes behind the government barricades to document the Mohawk Warrior perspective on the Oka Crisis which occurred in Oka, Quebec in 1990.  This is important, as at the time of the crisis, the Canadian government refused reporters access to speak with the Mohawk Warriors.  The Canadian government’s goal was to portray the warriors as “terrorists”.  Not many Canadians are aware of the land claim issue that was the real underlying cause of this confrontation, hence part of the title  is 270 years of resistance!

Ms. Obomsawin’s body of work in the world of film is yet another great example of how modern technology can be harnessed to help First Nations artists help tell their stories.  I use three of her documentaries in the courses I teach in high school: Trick or Treaty, Kahnesatake: 270 Years of Resistance and Is the Crown at War With Us?  Each film is high quality, and of immeasurable value for viewers who really want to dig deep into the colonial historical relationships that are entwined with most of today’s Aboriginal issues in Canada.

Link to her body of work:


Here is a short 7 minute interview with Ms. Obomsawin



Here is a trailer to her amazing documentary on the Canadian treaty process called Trick or Treaty:


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