Within Canadian cinema, Indigenous peoples have long been underrepresented as filmmakers and misrepresented as subjects.
REEL CANADA recognizes this fact and we are dedicated to ensuring that Indigenous-made films are integrated and included throughout all of our programmes.
We are committed to celebrating the work of Indigenous filmmakers and believe in the importance of Indigenous stories being told by Indigenous peoples on their own terms. We consider a film to be Indigenous-made if an Indigenous director, writer or producer is involved.
If you are interested in finding out more about Indigenous cinema, start by looking through the Indigenous-made films amongst this year’s 100 Spotlight films. These films reflect Indigenous experiences, and provide an opportunity for dialogue, cross cultural exchange and greater understanding.
For additional information, as well as context on the history of Indigenous filmmaking in Canada, you can also consult this write-up and timeline published by REEL CANADA for National Canadian Film Day 2019.
REEL CANADA is committed to the practice of ‘acknowledging territory’ at all of our festivals across the country. REEL CANADA believes that making these acknowledgements everywhere that we present our activities is a small demonstration of our recognition and respect for the Indigenous Nations on whose traditional territories and treaty lands we run our activities. This acknowledgement should be done in accordance with the Indigenous acknowledgement practice of the specific part of Canada where you are.
Learning about the Indigenous acknowledgement practices in your area is an opportunity for you to build your awareness and recognize your (or your organization’s) relationship with the Indigenous peoples in your community.
The following are REEL CANADA’s suggestions, which you can use as a guide for your event:
- It is important to make a distinction between a ‘Welcome to Territory’ and an ‘Acknowledgment of Territory’. The only people who would provide a ‘Welcome’ are representatives of the Nation on whose territory the event is taking place. Anyone else, including Indigenous people from other nations and territories, would simply acknowledge the territory.
- The host or emcee of the event is the only person who needs to acknowledge territory and should do so at the beginning of the event. It does not need to be repeated by each and every presenter and speaker, although it is appropriate for other Indigenous speakers or performers to do so if they like.
- If you do not know the name of the Nation(s) on whose territory or treaty land your event is located on, ask around. Friendship Centres and/or Indigenous student centres at colleges and universities are always a good source of information.
- Contact your local school board, city council or another community hub as they may already have an acknowledgement statement that has been approved by the nation on whose territory your event is being held.
- Connect with your local Friendship Centre, other Indigenous cultural centre, and/or a local cultural leader or expert to ensure the accuracy of your acknowledgement, to help you with the pronunciation, and to inform you of any local protocols you may need to consider.
- If you are struggling with pronunciation, you can also call the nation’s band office after-hours and listen to the outgoing voicemail recording.
- Practice saying the name(s) of the nation(s) out loud, and try to write it down phonetically for yourself.
- For larger events, it is respectful to actually invite a member of the host nation, preferably an elder, to provide a welcome to territory. Your local Friendship Centre or other Indigenous cultural center can recommend someone to you and advise you on protocol for reaching out to an elder.
The following online databases may be helpful in determining whose territory you are on and finding appropriate wording for a territorial acknowledgment
Please keep in mind that these resources are not definitive; and it is always good to double-check your final copy, preferably with an Indigenous person of the host nation.
Native Land Mapping Project
University of Calgary – Cultural Protocol Guidelines
Indigenous Corporate Training Inc. – First Nation Protocol on Traditional Territory