National Aboriginal History Month is a time “to recognize and celebrate the unique heritage, diverse cultures, and outstanding contributions of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples.”

To commemorate, CBC Docs has compiled a list of must-watch indigenous documentaries.


This River

When the body of a 14-year-old girl was pulled from Winnipeg’s Red River in 2014, it sparked a public outcry and renewed calls for a national inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women. It also galvanized a small group of Winnipeg citizens, who took action and formed Drag the Red. This film follows the volunteers who search the Red River and its banks for clues that might answer some of the questions surrounding the disappearances and murders.

Jaat Sdiihltl’lxa: Woman Who Returns

Heather didn't know she was Haida until she was 16. After visiting Haida Gwaii many times over the next twenty years, Heather realized she wanted to join her clan and receive her Haida name. This film follows her journey home.

Peace River Rising

Helen Knott, 500-year-old Dane-Zaa/Nehiyaw social worker, poet, and activist, explores the connection between violence against Indigenous women and violence against the land. She tracks some of the dramatic changes she’s witnessed in her home territory. From woodlands that have turned to pipelines and industrial contaminations, She leaves us with a deeper perspective into why she does the work she does — and her hopes for a new world.


Climb aboard one of Canada’s only First Nations-owned railways for a breathtaking train journey through Northern Quebec and Labrador.


Colonization Road

Ryan McMahon, an Anishinaabe comedian, travels across Ontario learning about Colonization Roads, the ways in which they have dispossessed Indigenous people of land and access to traditional territories while creating space for settlers in the colonial experiment that has become Canada.

READ MORE: Why I Won’t Be Attending Canada’s 150th Birthday Party

SCENE FROM THE FILM: Anishinaabe comedian Ryan McMahon performs a bit in his stand-up routine about colonization.

Watch the full doc here.

The Oka Legacy

In the summer of 1990, all eyes were on the small town of Oka for a standoff between the Mohawk people of Kanehsatake, Quebec police, and eventually the Canadian army. The town of Oka’s plans to expand a golf course onto un-ceded Mohawk land triggered the violent clash. Mohawk filmmaker Sonia Bonspille Boileau retraces the events that took place in her hometown in 1990 by talking with people who lived through the events.

READ MORE: Oka Timeline: An Unresolved Land Claim Hundreds of Years in the Making

SCENE FROM THE FILM: Mohawk filmmaker Sonia Bonspille Boileau takes us on a short walk through the events of summer 1990 from her perspective.
Trapped in a Human Zoo

This documentary retells the story of eight Inuit who came from Labrador in 1880 to Europe lured by promises of adventures and wealth, only to realize they had been trapped in a world that time has today forgotten; the world of human zoos. Thirty-five thousand indigenous people from around the world were recruited for these zoos. Author France Rivet and Inuit Elder Johannes Lampe, uncover the mystery of their disappearance as they discover the remains of five members of the group in Paris.

READ MORE: Human Zoos: A Shocking History of Shame and Exploitation

SCENE FROM THE FILM: Abraham and his family were first exhibited at a museum in Hamburg, Germany — where they even helped to assemble the exhibit themselves.

Watch the full doc here.


8th Fire

8th fire is a special four-part series that highlights the 500-year-old relationship with Indigenous peoples — a relationship still mired in colonialism, conflict, and denial.

Watch 8th Fire online.

Also on CBC