Indigenous TV that 'lifts the veil' on National Aborginal History Month
Your guide to CBC's 'Absolutely Aboriginal'
CBC celebrates National Aboriginal History Month with a month of special TV programming that celebrates arts, culture, history and stories from indigenous communities across Canada.
So apparently June has been National Aboriginal History Month since 2009. Good to know. It's a chance to reflect on indigenous history — seven generations is how far we're told to look back, and ahead as well, but as of yet we have no Aboriginal Future Month.
Here are some choices in CBC programming that will help lift the veil that has often shrouded indigenous history, a veil that too often has felt like an iron curtain.
First, a caveat — my writing background is fiction and drama so I may have a bias in that direction. And given that we're talking history, I looked towards projects that offered that context.
The content of some of the choices will be hard to watch, which I think is good. I prefer thought provoking motion picture that challenges an audience rather than coddling them.
Each choice offers some hard truths and tough information that will need to be reconciled. Truth and reconciliation is likely the reason the existence of National Aboriginal History Month has bubbled to the surface at all.
So sit back, grab a box of tissue and reconcile these:
This 2001 Zacharias Kunuk feature film is at the top of some best Canadian feature film lists. Visually stunning, historically accurate, shot entirely in the Arctic and in Inuktitut (it's subtitled in English for those of us not up on our Inuktitut) with Inuit actors and an Inuit writer and director, the project is a template for how to dramatize indigenous history in the proper way.
What I like best about this film, aside from the story, is that it's set a very long time ago, meaning there are no characters of European descent. It's a beacon against the notion that indigenous history begins with the arrival of the Europeans.
It airs at 11 p.m. Saturday, June 20
8th Fire is an in-depth four-part documentary series that examines the evolution of the relationship between Canada and Indigenous Peoples and their communities. And it doesn't hold back.
Wab Kinew hosts and he has that Peter Mansbridge element — when he talks you believe him.
It airs at 2 p.m., Sundays, June 21 and 28
This drama series is one of those controversial projects that appear from time to time that polarizes the indigenous audience. On one hand some lament, 'do we really need to show this kind of stuff on television?' But that gets countered with the sentiment 'man, I'm glad we have something like this on television.'
The former tends to be the view of the older demographic; the latter the younger.
The number of F-bombs is a distraction and you'll need some Gravol to get through season one, but the camera moves settle down in later seasons. In dramatic terms it's worth the tree, evident by the number of awards it keeps piling up.
It kicks off at 11 p.m., Monday, June 15
This is the latest addition to the body of work that is the career of maestro Alanis Obomsawin. You can feel hope and change surge through you as you watch this feature length documentary.
It's Alanis Obomsawin — watch all of her films and you'll know indigenous history and its relationship with Canada.
It airs at 7 p.m., Saturday, June 20