1. Media Space

  2. Press Releases

First-year progress on NFB’s 2017–2020 Indigenous Action Plan


On June 21, National Indigenous Peoples Day, Canada’s public producer and distributor announces year 1 results on Indigenous equity commitments

(Image provided by Eruoma Awashish)

June 20, 2018 – Montreal – National Film Board of Canada (NFB)

One year into the National Film Board of Canada’s three-year Indigenous Action Plan, Canada’s public producer and distributor is reporting on progress made to date and outlining key actions for the year ahead, in an announcement made by NFB Commissioner Claude Joli-Coeur on June 21, National Indigenous Peoples Day.

First announced by Joli-Coeur on June 17, 2017, the NFB plan responds to the work and recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada and Indigenous creators’ longstanding concerns about systemic inequities in the existing Canadian production landscape.

First-year highlights include:

  • Development/production work on 35 Indigenous-directed projects, representing 10% of overall production spending. By 2020, the NFB is committed to reaching 15% in overall production spending on Indigenous-led
  • Almost 900 community screenings as part of the Aabiziingwashi (Wide Awake) Indigenous Cinema Tour, held in every province and territory, working with TIFF, APTN, imagineNATIVE, the Canadian Commission for UNESCO and local partners.
  • A new Indigenous Cinema section at NFB.ca, offering free streaming of more than 200 new and classic NFB Indigenous titles, including newly digitized titles added annually.
  • Development of a new Indigenous Voices and Reconciliation (IVR) Learning Program for students, educators and lifelong learners, which will launch in 2019.
  • Supporting an imagineNATIVE-led initiative to create screen protocols for working with Indigenous filmmakers, subjects and stories.
  • An agreement between the NFB and APTN to pool efforts and expertise in developing protocols for production, distribution and archive management, implementing best practices for staff recruitment, training and other initiatives aimed at strengthening relations with Indigenous creators, staff and partners.
  • Adopting a groundbreaking Indigenous Materials Classification Schema developed by pioneering Indigenous librarians to catalogue the NFB’s online Indigenous Cinema collection.
  • Hiring of two new Indigenous staff members in production and marketing. The NFB is committed to reaching representational equity in staffing by 2025.
  • Close to 50% of NFB staff have participated in Indigenous cultural awareness activities, with training for all staff to be completed by 2019–2020.
  • Partnering on the creation of the Indigenous Screen Office.

The 33 commitments in the NFB’s action plan have been developed in partnership with an Indigenous advisory group made up of experts in production, distribution, community engagement, festivals, broadcasting, education, curation, archives, Indigenous copyright and public policy.

“One year into our Indigenous Action Plan, I’m encouraged by the progress we’ve made in transforming how the NFB works with and serves Indigenous peoples, in creation, education, accessibility and more. I want to thank all our partners, the advisory group and the entire NFB team in helping to get us to where we are today. There’s so much more to do and we’re looking to build on these results in year two,” said Claude Joli-Coeur, NFB Chairperson.

More info

Indigenous production

Indigenous-directed projects over the past year represented 10% of overall NFB production spending.

Highlights include such award-winning films as Alanis Obomsawin’s 50th work, Our People Will Be Healed; The Road Forward by Marie Clements; and Birth of a Family, directed by Tasha Hubbard and co-written by Betty Ann Adam. In short filmmaking, there was Jay Cardinal Villeneuve’s Holy Angels as well as Asinnajaq’s Three Thousand. In immersive experiences, the installation Kushapetshekan/Kosapitcikan at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts was created through the multidisciplinary creation lab Déranger.

Obomsawin has just completed work on a Kanien’kehá:ka (Mohawk) version of her landmark film Kanehsatake: 270 Years of Resistance, which will premiere in Kanehsatake on June 21, presented by Kontinónhstats – The Mohawk Language Custodian Association.

There are currently over 30 Indigenous-directed projects in development or production.

Upcoming releases will include Alanis Obomsawin’s 51st film for the NFB, on Jordan’s Principle; Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers’ feature doc Kimaapiipitsin; Délia Gunn and Evelyne Papatie’s short works for the web as part of La collection des 5 courts (08 Cinéma indépendant/ NFB); Tasha Hubbard’s Life and Death on the Prairies (Downstream Documentary/NFB); and Michelle Latimer’s The Inconvenient Indian (90th Parallel Productions/NFB), based on Thomas King’s book. There’s also Lisa Jackson’s interactive VR work, Biidaaban: First Light, which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival.

The Labrador Doc Project is an NFB/LJH Films initiative for Nunatsiavummiut filmmakers, while Hothouse, the NFB’s mentorship program for emerging animators, is focusing on Indigenous filmmakers in its 12th season.

For a closer look at upcoming Indigenous projects, visit the NFB Blog.


The NFB’s Education team has assembled a working group of Indigenous and allied educators to create a new Indigenous Voices and Reconciliation (IVR) Learning Program, an interactive, inquiry-based resource designed to honour Indigenous traditions, celebrate Indigenous lives and teach the truth about Canada’s colonial history with Indigenous peoples. Anchored in the NFB’s rich First Nations, Métis and Inuit film collection, the resource will provide learners with a variety of learning objects through which users navigate to foster their own learning and inspire action around the theme of reconciliation. The IVR is now being tested in classrooms via a select group of pilot teachers.

Upcoming: The IVR Learning Program is scheduled for release in the fall of 2019.

Community engagement

Highlights from this past year include the Aabiziingwashi (Wide Awake) Indigenous Cinema Tour, launched in May 2017. Working with partners TIFF, APTN and imagineNATIVE, as well as a host of community partners including governmental, institutional and cultural sector partners, the NFB has to date presented almost 900 screenings of films from the NFB’s Indigenous Cinema collection across every province and territory. These have included 13 screenings in remote communities—one in each province and territory—presented with APTN, as well as 64 community events to date with elders, presented in partnership with the Canadian Commission for UNESCO.

Upcoming: Originally planned as a one-year initiative, Aabiziingwashi is being extended for two additional years, thanks to the success of its inaugural tour.

Online accessibility

Since 1968, the NFB has produced close to 300 films by First Nation, Inuit and Métis directors from across Canada. On March 22, the NFB launched its new Indigenous Cinema section on NFB.ca, making it easier than ever for audiences to discover stories from many of Canada’s most notable Indigenous directors. Indigenous Cinema features free streaming of more than 200 new and classic titles from the NFB collection, with more titles being added each year.

Indigenous Cinema is catalogued using the Indigenous Materials Classification Schema (IMCS), an Indigenous-centred framework developed by Camille Callison (Tahltan Nation), Alissa Cherry and Keshav Mukunda, and first implemented at the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation Reference Library. The IMCS is based on the Brian Deer Classification system, first developed by Kanien’kéhaka (Mohawk) librarian Brian Deer in the 1970s and further adapted by Xwi7xwa Library and the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs (UBCIC).

New on NFB.ca: To help mark National Indigenous Peoples Day, Indigenous Cinema is adding the features Birth of a Family and The Road Forward (free until June 26), as well as the shorts The Mountain of SGaana by Christopher Auchter and To Wake Up the Nakota Language by Louise BigEagle.


Associated Links

NFB’s Indigenous Action Plan
National Indigenous Peoples Day
Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada
Aabiziingwashi (Wide Awake) Indigenous Cinema Tour
Canadian Commission for UNESCO
Indigenous Cinema section at NFB.ca
NFB’s Indigenous Voices and Reconciliation (IVR) Learning Program
Kontinónhstats – The Mohawk Language Custodian Association
90th Parallel Productions
Labrador Doc Project
NFB Blog
NFB’s Education team

Media Relations