National Aboriginal Day in Waterloo

National Aboriginal Day at Waterloo Library
Drummers opened the Film Festival at the Waterloo Library.

The month of June is National Aboriginal History Month.  This year marks the 20th annual National Aboriginal Day in Canada, a celebration of the history, culture and contributions of the First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples of Canada on the Summer solstice, June 21st.
Waterloo Public Library
There is a lot of interesting stuff in Waterloo Library’s National Aboriginal History Month display.  North America is known as “Turtle Island” among Canada’s Indigenous population.
Turtle Island (by Mark Wagner)
When explorers and then settlers arrived in the already occupied “new world,” instead of learning from and co-existing with the indigenous peoples, they intended to (and did) take the place over.  The settlers made treaties with the inhabitants, who were happy to share their world and trade with the newcomers.   And so treaties were made.
But the North American native population didn’t realize who they were dealing with, and so they took the Europeans at their word.

National Aboriginal Day display
The map below shows the area promised by the Haldimand Treaty October 25th, 1784:

“…Six miles deep from each side of the river beginning at Lake Erie, and extending in the proportion to the head of said river, which Them and Their Posterity are to enjoy forever.”

Treaty Land map

On the the 2015 side of the map you can see that “forever” didn’t mean what we think it means.  For the Indigenous inhabitants, dealing with the Europeans was like dealing with Darth Vader… the deal kept changing and nothing could be done.

Last night I had the privilege of attending indigiNATE Now, the National Aboriginal Day Film Festival put on by Create Waterloo and imagineNATIVE.  The program consisted of a powerful series of award winning short films made by Aboriginal filmmakers from around the world.

I learned about the Film Festival from CreateWaterloo’s Artist In Residence,  Michele Braniff, an incredibly versatile and talented woman who Waterloo Greens remember as the Cambridge Green Party Candidate in the 2015 federal election.

My Story
9:15 minutes, 2013 | Directed by Shania Tabobondung

Using simple, yet clever whiteboard animation, a young woman’s personal journey of struggles and courage through her early life are poignantly and artistically depicted in this impressive film debut.

Shania Tabobondung is a 17-year-old Anishinabekwe from Wasauksing First Nation. Her passion for the written word and visual arts has led her to seek future academic studies in journalism and/or media arts. My Story was the 2013 imagineNATIVE Tour Video Contest winner, which had over 40 films in contention.

16min, 2012 | Directed by Danis Goulet

Like any 16-year-old, Alyssa desperately wants to fit in with the crowd. But will her dreams crumble as her deepest secret is revealed?

Danis Goulet (Cree/Métis) is an award-winning writer and director. Her short film Wakening played before the opening night film at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival.

7:48min, 2012 | Directed by Adam Garnet Jones

A young man`s secret fuels a twisted vendetta for revenge in this powerful examination of intolerance.

Adam Garnet Jones (Cree/Métis) is a queer filmmaker originally from Edmonton, Alberta. His short films have been broadcast on television and screened widely at film festivals, including ImagineNATIVE. He is currently in post production on his first feature film, Fire Song.

5:44, 2011 | Directed by Ehren (Bear) Witness

This innovative tribute in response to the murder of totem carver John Williams by a Seattle police officer in 2010 employs image mixing, documentary footage, and an ingenious soundscape to commemorate a tragedy not to be forgotten.

Bear Witness (Cayuga) is an Ottawa-based media artist who has been producing short experimental videos for over eight years. Bear is a member of the award-winning DJ collective, A Tribe Called Red.

6:50, 2014 | Directed by Tara Browne

This docudrama short film is an interpretation of an interview and performance of Buffy Sainte-Marie that originally aired on CBC TV’s program TBA with host John O’Leary in 1966.

Actress, filmmaker and singer-songwriter, Tara (Beier) Browne (Cree) won the Best Experimental award for this film at imagineNATIVE in 2014.

3min, 2013 | Directed by Lisa Jackson

Evocative and haunting, director Lisa Jackson crafts a stunning performance-based piece that captures the brutality of violence against Indigenous women, yet celebrates hope for a future illuminated through advocacy and understanding.

Named one of Playback Magazine’s 10 to Watch in 2012, Lisa Jackson’s (Anishinaabe) genre-bending films span documentary, animation and fiction. Her work has also garnered numerous awards and her film, Savage won the Genie award for Best Short Film in 2010.

A Common Experience
10:30min, 2013 | Directed by Shane Belcourt

Acclaimed playwright Yvette Nolan voices her personal experience in this beautifully poetic and intimate exploration of the multigenerational effects of Canada’s residential school system.

Shane Belcourt (Metis) is an award-winning filmmaker, writer and musician based in Toronto. His debut feature film, Tkaronto closed imagineNATIVE in 2007 and has screened at film festivals worldwide.

Apikiwiyak (Coming Home)
12:46min, 2014 | Directed by Shane Belcourt and Maria Campbell

In this collaborative work, originally presented as a live reading and visual accompaniment, Maria Campbell, an acclaimed Métis author from Saskatchewan sets out to hold a mirror out for Indigenous non-Indigenous people to peer into the never-ending legacy of colonial violence.

Maria Campbell (Cree/French/Scottish) is a community worker, storyteller and filmmaker whose bestselling autobiography Halfbreed – an important document on ethnic relations in Canada – encouraged many First Nations people to become writers. In addition to her many other publications, she has also written or directed stage plays, films and videos.

indigiNATE Now program:

I had my first taste of Bannock, something I had believed to be a native staple, but I learned the real story last night.


These two new Heritage Minutes were shown at the beginning of the program.

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