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We Can’t Make the Same Mistake Twice

Alanis Obomsawin
2016 | 160 min

Prizes and awards

  • Official SelectionVancouver International Film Festival 2016

  • Official SelectionCalgary International Film Festival 2016

  • Official SelectionToronto International Film Festival 2016

  • Official SelectionimagineNATIVE Film & Media Arts Festival 2016

  • Official SelectionRIDM 2016

  • Official SelectionAtlantic Film Festival 2016

The Film

Long Synopsis


Promotional Materials


Alanis Obomsawin
Director | Writer | Producer
Photo : Cosmos Image

Alanis Obomsawin

Alanis Obomsawin, a member of the Abenaki Nation, is one of Canada’s most distinguished documentary filmmakers. As a prolific director with the National Film Board, she has created an extensive body or work focusing on the lives and concerns of Canada’s First Nations.

She began her professional career in 1960 as a singer in New York City. In 1967, producers Joe Koenig and Bob Verrall invited her to join the NFB as an adviser on a film about Indigenous peoples. She has not put down her camera since.

An activist as well as a filmmaker, Obomsawin is driven to provide a forum for the country’s First Peoples. Her entire filmography is a testament to that desire. Her documentaries have always sought to show the importance of roots and strong intergenerational bonds for the preservation of Indigenous cultures—from Christmas at Moose Factory (1971), in which she used children’s drawings to tell the story of a Cree village on the shore of James Bay, Ontario, to Jordan River Anderson, The Messenger (2019), her most recent film (her 52nd), which documents the long struggle to establish the right of Indigenous children to receive, in their own communities, the same high standard of health care as the rest of the Canadian population.

Obomsawin is a director who knows how to film conflict, as demonstrated by her four films about the Oka Crisis of 1990: Kanehsatake: 270 Years of Resistance (1993), winner of 18 international awards; My Name Is Kahentiiosta (1995); Spudwrench: Kahnawake Man (1997); and Rocks at Whiskey Trench (2000).

Other films in this category are Incident at Restigouche (1984), an intense, gripping account of a raid by provincial police on a Mi’kmaq reserve in Quebec; Richard Cardinal: Cry from the Diary of a Métis Child (1986), a disturbing look at the suicide of an adolescent; and more recently, The People of the Kattawapiskak River, an in-depth investigation of the Cree housing crisis at James Bay, which won the award for best social/political documentary at the 2014 Canadian Screen Awards, as well as Hi-Ho Mistahey!, which had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2013 and was  nominated for best feature documentary at the 2014 Canadian Screen Awards. In 2018, a more serene Obomsawin documentary, Our People Will Be Healed, won the APTN Award at the Montreal First Peoples’ Festival.

The people of the community of Odanak and their stories are at the heart of her widely acclaimed Waban-Aki: People from Where the Sun Rises (2006), and her short film Sigwan (2005). The village’s basket-makers inspired her to make a series of prints, which will be exhibited at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts from June 7 to August 25, 2019.

Alanis Obomsawin has received numerous awards and honours throughout her career. She was inducted into the Canadian Film and Television Hall of Fame in 2010, and in 2014 she received the Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television Humanitarian Award, an honour given in recognition of exceptional contributions to the community and the public sector. In 2015, the Valdivia International Film Festival (Chile) recognized her body of work with its Lifetime Achievement Award, and she received an Honorary Life Member Award from the Directors’ Guild of Canada in 2018.

Obomsawin has received honorary doctorates from many universities, including Dalhousie University in 2016 and McGill University in 2017. In 2016, she also received two of the highest civilian honours conferred by the Province of Quebec when she was named a Grand Officer of the National Order of Quebec and awarded the Prix Albert-Tessier.  In 2019, she became a Companion of the Order of Canada.

Annette Clarke
Executive Producer
Photo : NFB

Annette Clarke

As executive producer of the English Quebec and Atlantic Studio, Annette Clarke leads a team committed to an ambitious story slate. Recent credits include How to Be at Home, a pandemic-themed animated shortFar Away From Far Awaylong-form interactive story for mobile devices; and Assholes: A Theory, a topical treatise on bad behaviourCurrent projects include the feature doc Seguridada look at patriarchy inside post-revolutionary Cuba, and Dear Audrey, a beautiful and unusual love story.  



Director / Writer
Alanis Obomsawin

René Sioui Labelle
Philippe Amiguet
German Gutierrez
Maarten Kroonenburg

Location Sound
Glenn Hodgins
Thierry Morlaas-Lurbe
Marco Fania
Yann Cleary
Kim Nguyen

Original Music
Michel Dubeau
Lauren Bélec

Michel Dubeau – Flutes, Dudük
Lauren Bélec – Guitars
Normand Guilbeault – Double Bass

Additional Music
Dominique Tremblay – Violin-Alto

Alanis Obomsawin

Music & Voice Recording
Geoffrey Mitchell
Luc Leger

Sound Editor
Don Ayer

Lise Wedlock

Alanis Obomsawin
Katherine Kasirer

Rights Clearance
Elizabeth Klinck

Denis Pilon

Graphic Design & Titles
Mélanie Bouchard
Jacques-Bertrand Simard

Digital Editing Technicians
Pierre Dupont
Isabelle Painchaud
Patrick Trahan

Elise Simard
Brigitte Archambault

Technical Coordinators
Jean-François Laprise
Daniel Lord

Marketing Manager
François Jacques

Marketing Coordinator
Jolène Lessard

Patricia Dillon-Moore

Legal Counsel
Dominique Aubry

Production Coordinator
Christine Williams

Senior Production Coordinators
Camila Blos
Isabelle Limoges

Program Administrator
Leslie Anne Poyntz

The Presbyterian Church in Canada Archives

Archives Deschâtelets

APTN Aboriginal’s People Television Network

Winnipeg Free Press

CBC Archive Sales/Archives Radio-Canada

Phyllis Grant – “Hand in Hand” Artwork

First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada – Wen:De Report

House of Commons Footage

National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Institution – “Kwakwaka’wakw Potlatch at Txaxis (Fort Rupert), 1894 – photo by O.C.Hastings

Gilford Bighouse – photo by Ruth Lyall

Courtesy of the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture

“IN THE LAND OF HEAD HUNTERS”, Courtesy of Milestone Film and Video

Royal BC Museum and Archives

Prints & Photographs Division, Library of Congress

Gwa’wina Dancers, Courtesy of U’Mista Cultural Center

Oliver P. Anderson, Kwakiutl Woman Named Cla-lish, Fort Rupert, British Columbia, 1899
Portland Art Museum. Gift of Peter and Mary Kirschner

The General Synod Archives, Anglican Church of Canada

Provincial Archives of Saskatchewan

Glenbow Archives

United Church Archives, Toronto.

Yukon Archives, Anglican Church, Diocese of Yukon Fonds

Library and Archives Canada

Ontario Archives

Peter Henderson Bryce, Secretary Provincial Board of Health for Ontario

“Schools Aid White Plague” – Material republished with the express permission of: Ottawa Evening Citizen, a division of Postmedia Network Inc

National Film Board of Canada Stockshots
“A National Crime” Book by Dr. John Milloy
Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada
New Brunswick Child and Youth Advocate

Special Thanks to:
Canadian Human Rights Tribunal
Federal Court of Appeal
Jordan River Anderson’s Family
Frankie Dubois Family
Dr. Robert Joseph, Hereditary Chief
Gwawaenuk First Nation

Alanis Obomsawin

Executive Producer
Annette Clarke



Press Relations

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