Education Resources

Classroom Resources

Education Packages – Film

These educational guides were originally commissioned by the Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Film Festival. They include a range of questions that will help teachers frame discussions with their class, as well as activities for before, during, and after viewing. Web links that provide starting points for further research or discussion are also included. Linked to the Ontario curriculum.

Turning Tables
Directed by Chrisann Hessing
2017 | Canada | 16 min
Powwow step DJ Joshua DePerry, a.k.a. Classic Roots, integrates the sounds of his Anishinaabe heritage with techno and house music, bringing a new sound and skills set to Indigenous youth. Redefining what it means to be urban and Indigenous, he’s preparing to start the next chapter of his life as an artist and educator in the world’s techno capital: Berlin.

Standing Rock Part 1 – Sacred Water
Directed by Michelle Latimer
2016 | Canada | 44 min
The protest against the Dakota Access Pipeline was the biggest gathering of Indigenous peoples in living memory, becoming a flashpoint for environmental activists and highlighting issues of Indigenous sovereignty, treaties, and the effects of resource extraction on human communities and the natural world. The film features young mother Bobbi Jean Three Legs and tribal historian LaDonna Brave Bull Allard.

Standing Rock Part 2 – Red Power
Directed by Michelle Latimer
2017 | Canada | 44 min
Interviews with Indigenous historians and archival protest footage provide context to the 2016 protest against the Dakota Access Pipeline. The film revisits the 1803 Louisiana Purchase and the Winters Doctrine, a Supreme Court case that clarifies Native American water rights. It also discusses the occupations of Alcatraz and Wounded Knee to shed light on structural issues that continue to support colonialism.

Colonization Road
Directed by Michelle St. John
2016 | Canada | 44 min
Colonization Road discusses the roads built by the colonial government to bring settlers across the country, connect them with resources to create industry and create a nation. The film follows Anishinaabe comedian Ryan McMahon as he travels across Ontario speaking to Indigenous and settler lawyers, historians, researchers, and policy makers about colonization roads and their impact on Indigenous peoples. 

The Oka Legacy  
Directed by Sonia Bonspille-Boileau
2015 | Canada | 44 min
The Oka Legacy examines how the 78-day Oka Crisis has transformed Indigenous identity in Canada. The film retraces the events that took place in Kanehsatake by talking with people who lived through the events firsthand. The film also features Indigenous community activists who were inspired to do great things after the events of 1990.

Directed by Lisa Jackson & Shane Belcourt
2017 | Canada | 44 min
Indictment: The Crimes of Shelly Chartier is a complex and fascinating true crime story that raises important questions about Canada’s justice system. Sensationalized in the international media as a high-profile catfishing scheme involving a reclusive Indigenous woman from Easterville, Manitoba, the film weaves together interviews to gain insight into the woman behind the crime, as well as the effects of colonialism on her community.

Bee Nation
Directed by Lana Šlezić
2017 | Canada | 78 min
Watch as grade 5 student Thomas Ibister from Ahtahkakoop First Nation represent his school and community in Saskatchewan’s first province-wide First Nations Spelling Bee. The tensions of the competitions are compelling cinema, but the heart of the film lies with the families and teachers. They’re challenging inequity and refusing to limit their children’s options.

Tunniit: Retracing the Lines of Inuit Tattoos
Directed by Alethea Arnaquq-Baril
2010 | Canada | 50 min
Tunniit details Inuk director Alethea Arnaquq-Baril’s journey to discover more about the Inuit tradition of facial tattooing. Arnaquq-Baril travels to several Inuit communities to speak to elders about the art of tattooing and the cultural significance behind it. Tunniit explores what it means to not only revive a cultural practice but wear that practice as a marker of identity.

The Creator’s Game: The Quest for Gold and the Fight for Nationhood
Directed by Candace Maracle
2011 | Canada | 42 min
The Creator’s Game is a look at the Iroquois Nationals, who travelled to the 2011 World Indoor Lacrosse Championship on Haudenosaunee Confederacy passports, forcing world governments to recognize their sovereignty. The film details the traditional values that characterize the game of lacrosse and how those values continue to bind families, communities, and nations within the Confederacy.

The Life You Want: A Young Woman’S Struggle Through Addiction
Directed by Michelle Derosier
2011 | Canada | 34 min
In the Northern Ontario community of Fort Hope (Eabametoong First Nation), the addiction rate is estimated to be at 80 per cent, with most people addicted to OxyContin. In The Life You Want, 22-year-old Doris Slipperjack gives viewers an unflinching look into prescription drug abuse and the effects of her addiction on her children and relationship – and how she reaches out for help.

Music Is The Medicine
Directed by Lindsay Rusheleau
2010 | Canada | 45 min
Music Is the Medicine follows virtuoso blues-rock guitarist and singer-songwriter Derek Miller, a Mohawk, as he struggles to make it big in the music industry. The film features concert footage, deeply personal interviews, and follows Miller over two years as he sets down tracks in the studio, tours small-town Ontario, and travels as far as Nashville to try to break into the mainstream.

Reel Injun: On The Trail Of The Hollywood Indian
Directed by Neil Diamond
2009 | Canada | 86 min
Reel Injun takes a critical yet humorous look at the depiction of Indigenous peoples in Hollywood films. Filled with clips from hundreds of classic films and interviews with actors and directors, the film considers how contemporary Indigenous filmmakers such as Chris Eyre and Zacharias Kunuk are changing the way Indigenous peoples are portrayed on-screen.

Land Of Oil And Water
Directed by Warren Cariou and Neil McArthur
2009 | Canada | 44 min
This film uses the voices of First Nations elders, youth, and politicians to illustrate the issues around Canada’s tar sands. Some say that money doesn’t make up for the environmental degradation and destruction of pre-colonial Indigenous ways of life. Others say that industry interference is inevitable, and that Indigenous peoples should benefit.

Qapirangajuq: Inuit Knowledge And Climate Change
Directed by Zacharias Kunuk
2009 | Canada | 60 min
This is the world’s first Inuktitut-language film on the topic of climate change, told in the voices of Inuit elders and hunters who detail the social and ecological effects of global warming in the Arctic. Using stunning visual shots on the land, the film documents Inuit knowledge that has been ignored by southern scientists.

Pushing The Line: Art Without Reservations
Directed by Lisa Jackson
2009 | Canada | 48 min
Pushing the Line features the art and words of West Coast artists, including manga artist Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas, carver Dempsey Bob, graffiti artist Andrew Dexel, and visual artist Marianne Nicolson. By detailing how their politics affect their art, the artists show that Indigenous art is much more than totem poles and masks sold in tourist shops.

The Experimental Eskimos
Directed by Barry Greenwald
2009 | Canada | 70 min
In the 1960s, the government of Canada relocated three 12-year-old Inuit boys to Ottawa, where they lived with foster families and attended school. Their relocation was part of a formal experiment to, as the government said, “destroy native culture.” The men struggled with the loss of their Inuit identity, and were accused of selling out.

Unreserved: The Work Of Louie Gong
Directed by Tracy Rector
2010 | Canada | 14 min
This film profiles artist, activist, and teacher Louie Gong. Gong – who is Nooksack, Squamish, Chinese, Scottish, and French – designs shoes, T-shirts, and skateboard decks using Coast Salish artistic forms, creating a unique combination of art and attitude that tests the boundary between traditional and contemporary.

Mémére Métisse/My Métis Grandmother
Directed by Janelle Wookey
2008 | Canada | 30 min
Franco-Métis filmmaker Janelle Wookey wants to know why her grandmother, 73-year-old Cecile St. Amant, is embarrassed about and denies her Métis roots. The film documents Wookey’s mission: she wants her grandmother to admit she is Métis and register with the Manitoba Métis Federation. In the end, she succeeds on both counts, helping her grandmother honour a past she has hidden for over 60 years.

Athlii Gwaii: The Line at Lyell
Directed by Jeff Bear and Marianne Jones
2010 | Canada | 47 min
Soon after a logging blockade was started by young people at Athlii Gwaii (Lyell Island, part of Haida Gwaii), Haida elders asked them to step aside – because they wanted to be the first ones arrested. The film looks at the role elders play in Indigenous societies and the reverence the Haida have for the land. Pairing archival clips with contemporary interviews, the film also details the personal and political effects of the blockade.

Mohawk Girls
Directed by Tracey Deer
2005 | Canada | 63 min
Mohawk Girls chronicles the lives of three girls from the Kahnawake Mohawk Territory who are struggling with the challenges of growing up on-reserve. The film details contemporary issues facing Indigenous youth: identity, family, school, drug and alcohol use, racism both on- and off-reserve, the role of cultural traditions, sexuality and teenage pregnancy, and making choices for the future.

Spirit Doctors
Directed by Marie Burke
2010 | Canada | 40 min
Okanagan elders Mary and Ed Louie have been working as traditional healers in B.C.’s Similkameen Valley for more than 50 years. Spirit Doctors shows the gratitude they have for the plants they use to help their patients, how they must live cleanly in order to be able to heal others, and the things they give up in order to work for their communities. The film also delves into the science behind Indigenous medicine.

Directed by Gail Maurice
2007 | Canada | 14 min
More than 100 First Nations communities across Canada do not have clean, safe drinking water. Thirst is a glimpse into Keewaywin, an Oji-Cree community north of Red Lake, Ontario, where the water is contaminated with uranium and residents are forced to purchase expensive bottled water.

Study Guides & Lesson Plans

Seeing With Memory: The Artwork of Shelley Niro
A Study Guide for Teachers to the Artwork of Shelley Niro

Soundscape Composition Through the Medicine Wheel
A music composition lesson (instrumental or vocal) connecting students to the world around them

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