Self-isolating? NFB is streaming free titles including an Indigenous cinema library

People are self-isolating across the country to flatten the curve of the Covid-19 pandemic but that doesn't mean you can't stay occupied.

The National Film Board of Canada has over 4,000 films, documentaries and short pieces available to stream for free and this includes a rich library of Indigenous content. 

In March 2018, the National Film Board of Canada launched a cinema collection of over 200 films by Indigenous directors — part of a three-year Indigenous Action Plan to "redefine" the NFB's relationship with Indigenous peoples.

We've compiled a list, while not exhaustive, of films you can stream for free through the NFB website. Be sure to go online to access the full library available at no charge. 


Stories Are in Our Bones (2019) Director: Janine Windolph

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.

Submitted by TIFF

Coming soon Jordan River Anderson, The Messenger (2019) Director: Alanis Obomsawin

Alanis Obomsawin's 53rd film documents the story of a young boy who spent all five years of his life in hospital while the provincial and federal government argued over who was responsible for paying for the boy's care.

After facing criticism for the boy's death, Parliament passed a motion in support of "Jordan's Principle," a policy meant to ensure equal access to government-funded health, social and educational services, although living up to the principle took a decade to be fully recognized.

There is also a wide range of films and shorts by Alanis Obomsawin that are available on NFB.


Freedom Road (2019) Director: Angelina McLeod

This four-part short documentary series looks at Shoal Lake 40's battle to build and connect to an all season road to Highway 1. Before the road was built the community was only accessible by a barge in the summer or by an ice road in the winter.

Director Angelina McLeod began filming in 2017 when construction on the road began. She is originally from Shoal Lake 40 but left the community to pursue education.

The arrival of the road has given the community hope, which is explored in five short films, Ininiwag (men), Ikwewag (women), Oshkaadiziig (youth) and Gitchi-aya' aag (elders), and a Context films as well. 


Woman Dress (2019) Director: Thirza Cuthand

This short film by Thirza Cuthand features archival images and dramatized re-enactments.

It shares a Cuthand family oral story, honouring and respecting Woman Dress without imposing colonial binaries on them. Woman Dress, a Two Spirit person, travels the plains gathering and sharing stories. 


Birth of a Family (2016) Director: Tasha Hubbard

Birth of a Family follows the story of four Dene siblings from Saskatchewan who were taken away from their mother and raised in foster homes, and their reunion decades later.

Betty Ann, Esther, Rosalie, and Ben were only four of the 20,000 Indigenous Canadian children taken from their families between 1955 and 1985, to be either adopted into white families or live in foster care.

In sharing her family's story, Betty Ann Adam said she saw an opportunity to help other Canadians understand the Sixties Scoop.

She connected with filmmaker Tasha Hubbard and asked her to film the reunion.