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10 documentaries that explore race, racism and policing in North America

A selection of documentaries that give context, exploring issues of race, racism and police tactics.

As people around the world protest the killing of George Floyd and other recent police-involved deaths, here is a selection of documentaries examining issues of race, racism and police tactics.

The Skin We're In

Join author and activist Desmond Cole as he researches his debut book, and tries to answer the question "What does it mean to be Black in 21st century Canada?" He travels across the continent looking for answers. He visits Ferguson, Mo., where he covered the uprising following the 2014 police killing of Mike Brown. He goes to Birchtown, N.S., home of the oldest Black community in Canada, and finds a surprising personal connection. And finally, he goes to his hometown of Red Deer, Alta., where he talks to an African immigrant family to find out what's changed since he lived there decades ago.


The G20 summit in June of 2010 was the largest mass arrest in Canadian history. More than 1,000 people were arrested over the two-day summit. Over 300 of those were arrested as the result of the "kettling" — or intentional boxing in — of protestors, journalists, and innocent bystanders by police at the intersection of Queen and Spadina in Toronto. Here's the story of that event, as told by some of the people who were there.

Frame 394

An animator from Toronto slows down and frame-stabilizes a video of the police shooting of Walter Scott in South Carolina, posting it to Reddit. He inadvertently steps into a complex moral quagmire, pulling him deeper into the case, where he meets both the defence lawyers for the accused officer, and the Black Lives Matter activists working to see him convicted.

Hold Your Fire

When 911 receives a call about an emotionally distressed person, it is usually the police who are called to the scene. But too often, these calls end in the distressed person dying at the hands of police. How do we change that? This doc looks at possible cultural and policy changes that could help keep people in crisis alive.


For almost 15 years, Brad Galloway was a member of white supremacist organizations, eventually becoming the national president of Volksfront. He's since walked away from hate, has helped the RCMP map Canada's hate groups, and does anti-violence intervention work. He talks about what drew him into the world of organized racism, and why he got out.

Freedom Summer

Moon is 13 years old and is learning how to be a leader and take care of younger children. Rihanna is seven, and her mother wants her to learn to love the skin she's in. At Black Lives Matter Toronto's Freedom School, Black kids get the opportunity to learn about their heritage and culture, and that Black is beautiful.

Documenting Hate: Charlottesville

In the summer of 2017, white nationalists ran wild in Charlottesville, Va., killing one activist and injuring many more. In this Emmy award-winning documentary, journalist A.C. Thompson looks at the ideology that drives these groups. 

nîpawistamâsowin: We Will Stand Up

In August of 2016, Colten Boushie — a young Cree man from Red Pheasant First Nation — was shot by Gerald Stanley on Stanley's farm outside of Biggar, Sask. The subsequent trial raised questions about how racism plays a factor in Canada's legal system.

Documenting Hate: New American Nazis

A.C. Thompson follows up on his previous documentary, this time turning his lens on Atomwaffen Division. This upstart hate group is already responsible for several violent attacks. It has a goal of causing a race war, a decentralized, cell-style structure, and members serving in the United States Armed Forces.

Deeply Rooted

Filmmaker Cazhhmere comes from a family that's been in Canada for seven generations. In spite of that, because she's Black, she's all-too-frequently asked where she's "from." She goes back to her hometown of Halifax to tell the story of her ancestors, the Downey-Collins family, a deeply Canadian family that fought in two world wars, and represented this country at the Olympics.