November 23, 2020: Discover a commUNITY that is showcasing films about Indigenous stories! Check out video streaming resources available through UBC featuring Indigenous films.

A film can open your heart and mind at the same time. As you are watching a film you are receptive to a range of experiences and emotions in a short amount of time. (Roy, 2016) Isn’t that fabulous!? With thousands of movies coming out every year how can we choose the ones worth the watch? Commercial Hollywood movies are increasingly oriented toward maintaining the status quo in a world dominated by multinational corporations that only have in mind profit. Where can we find films that have compelling stories that engage the community and are relevant to Indigenous peoples? Where can we find films that raise questions of identity, politics, environmental concerns? The answer: Film Festivals!

Tribal Sovereignty and Home” is a commUNITY themed online film streaming event, like a small film festival, that is celebrating Indigenous people around Turtle Island. From November 16 – 30, 2020, they are showcasing various films about Indigenous topics that have long resonated within communities, such as Nation sovereignty, empowerment, history, and healing. Vision Maker Media, the host for the event, empowers and engages Native people to share stories. They envision a world changed and healed by understanding Indigenous stories and the public conversations they generate. Below find the trailer of one of the main films featured in the event, Rumble: The Indians Who Rocked the World! A film that brings to light the profound and overlooked influence of Indigenous people on popular music in North America. Focusing on Indigenous music icons! Watch this film and more now for FREE at “Tribal Sovereignty and Home

“Film festivals are good examples of alternative media distribution aimed at providing education on social justice issues, as well as on counter-narratives of marginalized groups, and seeking to open public space for information and exchange rather than fattening the media corporations” (Roy, 2016 p.28) Some film festivals even have the sole goal of community engagement and public education reaching as many people as possible. Through these cultural events, people get to reflect and challenge dominant narratives by watching diverse stories that response to severe social and political crises. Film Festivals have an important role in making people think critically. Film Festivals can become places for education by raising awareness and motivating individuals to act on something they saw while increasingly feature Indigenous filmmakers to seize the narrative to tell their own stories.

Documentaries, for example, are some of the most fascinating films as they open doors to places we would never have access to. “A documentary film can portray complex situations; it allows viewers to consider new perspectives and, at times, even encourages empathy for people with different points of view or life experiences.” (Roy, 2016 p.12) By shedding light on pressing social issues and challenging assumptions, documentaries try to open our minds. Real-life films that become bridges between the communities and the audience. Roy (2016) states that documentaries can “offer alternative views that challenge assumptions they open new horizons and create a space for such freedom of thought. Such spaces become even more valuable in a context where powerful corporations controlled the media and tend to recycle the same information” (p.33). There’s Something in the Water, for example, is a documentary that explores the topic of environmental racism, poignantly shining a light on the Canadian government’s current and historical decisions to prioritize large corporations over the health of indigenous and black communities.

Several video streaming resources are available through UBC Library, like Kanopy. Kanopy is an on-demand streaming video service for educational institutions that provides access to more than 26,000 films each year. Kanopy works directly with filmmakers and film distribution companies to offer award-winning collections including titles from PBS, BBC, Criterion Collection, Media Education Foundation and more. One of the documentaries you can find inside Kanopy is When Two Worlds Collide: A Battle for Indigenous Amazonian Land. This documentary takes a hard look at how indigenous peoples clashed violently with the Peruvian government over land and economics in the Amazon.

Another video streaming resource that is available through UBC Library is NFB Campus (National Film Board). Over 3,000 films, including documentaries, animations and interactive productions. Showcases films that take a stand on issues of global importance that matter to Canadians—stories about the environment, human rights, international conflict, the arts and more. Several films by Abenaki filmmaker Alanis Obomsawin, one of Canada’s most distinguished documentary filmmakers, are available to watch. Below is a list of recommended documentaries to watch at NFB Campus: 

Our People Will Be Healed, Alanis Obomsawin’s 50th film, reveals how a Cree community in Manitoba has been enriched through the power of education.

nîpawistamâsowin: We Will Stand Up, the film centres on the murder of Colten Boushie, and depicts his family’s struggle to attain justice in a racist political system.

The Whale and the Raven, the film illuminates the many issues that have drawn whale researchers, the Gitga’at First Nation, and the Government of British Columbia into conflict struggle to protect Indigenous territory against the pressure and promise of the gas industry.

Documentaries are not about the fancy tech edit, they are about revealing the truth with heart and passion and respecting ethical boundaries and community protocols.  “When individuals have the choice of seeing the world in a different way and when they are able to question the sources of their beliefs, this is the beginning of social change” (Cranton, 1996, p. 141). Any good documentary starts with the premise of social change and anyone can do one. UBC has excellent tools that can help you edit your videos to become understanding the work behind the scenes. The popular software Snagit and Camtasia are now available UBC-wide at no cost. Both software packages are available for download through the Canvas Learning Management System.

  • Snagit is a powerful screen capture tool that allows you to easily capture, modify and share screenshots and basic video captures of your computer screen. This tool is invaluable for instructional and support purposes.

  • Camtasia complements the functionality of Snagit and includes comprehensive video and audio recording of your screen. This software has all the editing tools to create great dynamic video content and allows for easy sharing of your videos to anyone, anywhere.


  • Roy, Carole (2016) Documentary Film Festivals: Transforming learning, community building, and solidarity. Rotterdam, The Netherlands: Sense Publishers.
  • Cranton, Patricia (1996) Professional development as transformative learning: New perspectives for teachers of adults. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.