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Film Festival for National Day of Truth and Reconciliation

NDTR NFB film festival

Sep 14, 2023

The Ottawa Public Library welcomes you to a thought-provoking day-long film festival, presented in partnership with the National Film Board of Canada, on National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.

To commemorate National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, OPL chose to honour the Indigenous oral tradition by amplifying Indigenous voices and bring together our communities in the spirit of truth and reconciliation. Through the lens of these award-winning documentaries, the power of storytelling will help educate, inspire, and unite communities, as we reflect on our shared history and the path forward.

So join us on September 30th, online via Zoom or at one of our seven open branches, on a cinematic journey centered around the theme of residential schools that explores the rich tapestry of Indigenous history, culture, and the path towards reconciliation.

Stay with us throughout the day, or join us at planned times for specific films according to the schedule below:

10h15: Word of welcome

10h18: Sisters & Brothers

10h21: We Were Children

11h43: Honour to Senator Murray Sinclair

12h12: We Can't Make the Same Mistake Twice

14h54: Stories Are in Our Bones

15h05: The Road Forward

Register now to get the Zoom link, or visit one of our open branches (BeaverbrookCumberlandGreenboroNepean CentrepointeMainRuth E DickinsonSt Laurent.)

See below for a full description of the films:

10:18 AM: Sisters and Brothers

In a pounding critique of Canada's colonial history, this short film draws parallels between the annihilation of the bison in the 1890s and the devastation inflicted on the Indigenous population by the residential school system.

No spoken language, 3 min, 2015

10:21 AM: We Were Children

Warning: this film is recommended for audiences 16 years of age and older. In this feature film, the profound impact of the Canadian government’s residential school system is conveyed through the eyes of two children who were forced to face hardships beyond their years. As young children, Lyna and Glen were taken from their homes and placed in church-run boarding schools, where they suffered years of physical, sexual and emotional abuse, the effects of which persist in their adult lives. We Were Children gives voice to a national tragedy and demonstrates the incredible resilience of the human spirit.

English with French subtitles, 82 min, 2012

11:43 AM: Honour to Senator Murray

As the Chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Senator Murray Sinclair was a key figure in raising global awareness of the atrocities of Canada’s residential school system. With determination, wisdom and kindness, Senator Sinclair remains steadfast in his belief that the path to actual reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people requires understanding and accepting often difficult truths about Canada’s past and present. Alanis Obomsawin shares the powerful speech the Senator gave when he accepted the WFM-Canada World Peace Award, interspersing the heartbreaking testimonies of former students imprisoned at residential schools. The honouring of Senator Sinclair reminds us to honour the lives and legacies of the tens of thousands of Indigenous children taken from their homes and cultures, and leaves us with a profound feeling of hope for a better future.

English with French subtitles, 29 min, 2021

12:12 PM: We Can't Make the Same Mistake Twice

The rights of First Nations children take centre stage in this monumental documentary. Following a historic court case filed by the Assembly of First Nations and the Child and Family Caring Society of Canada against the federal government, Alanis Obomsawin exposes generations of injustices endured by First Nations children living on reserves and their families. Through passionate testimony and unwavering conviction, frontline childcare workers and experts including Cindy Blackstock take part in a decade-long court battle to ensure these children receive the same level of care as other Canadian children. Their case against Canada is a stark reminder of the disparities that persist in First Nations communities and the urgent need for justice to be served.

English with French subtitles, 162 min, 2016

14:54 PM: Stories Are in Our Bones

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.

English with French subtitles, 11 min, 2019

15:05 PM: The Road Forward

The Road Forward, a musical documentary by Marie Clements, connects a pivotal moment in Canada’s civil rights history—the beginnings of Indian Nationalism in the 1930s—with the powerful momentum of First Nations activism today. The Road Forward’s stunningly shot musical sequences, performed by an ensemble of some of Canada’s finest vocalists and musicians, seamlessly connect past and present with soaring vocals, blues, rock, and traditional beats. A rousing tribute to the fighters for First Nations rights, a soul-resounding historical experience, and a visceral call to action.

English with French subtitles, 101 min, 2017