FIRST NATIONS: THE CIRCLE UNBROKEN
Produced by Gary Marcuse and Svend-Erik Eriksen; directed by Geraldine Bob, Gary Marcuse, Deanna Nyce and Lorna Williams Face to Face Media/National Film Board of Canada, 1993.4 VHS cassettes, $125.00 (includes teacher's guide). Video 1: Cree Hunters, Quebec Dams (23 min.), Standing Alone (20 min.), The Last Mooseskin Boat (17 min.), KWA'NU'TE (19 min.); Video 2: Hunters and Bombers (22 min.), Magic in the Sky (20 min.), Voyage of Rediscovery (25 min.); Video 3: Potlatch (22 min.), Time Immemorial (22 min.), Uranium (23 min.); Video 4: Education, as We See it (20 min.), Last Days of Okak (26 min.), Commandos for Christ (20 min.). Distributed by the National Film Board of Canada. 1-55022-159-0. CIP
Volume 21 Number 6
This series is a collection of thirteen 20-minute programs, some of which are suitable for students as young as nine, while others are clearly aimed at the high school and college audience. The focus is current issues that reflect cultural identity of and relations between the First Nations and Canada. Within the series, different perspectives on history, culture, spirituality, education, racism, colonialism and aboriginal title to land are explored. Sometimes elders tell stories that focus on issues, while at other times individuals, sometimes angry, recount experiences, often painful, that they have the strength to share.
Examples of the specific topics covered are the potlatch, Cree hunters and Quebec dams, revival of the sundance, Micmac and Maliseet artists, hunters and NATO in Labrador, television, aboriginal justice, land settlements, uranium mining, education, mission settlements and Christian religion.
This series is well set out for classroom use. Each program is highly focused on one topic which allows a teacher to choose the most appropriate ones. Each video case has an outline and suggested topics for exploration. As well, an extensive teacher's guidebook has been prepared. For each topic, general background is provided and often another side of the issue from that presented in the video. Thought-provoking questions and activities are suggested and, if the class discussions develop as recommended, students will have explored the issues thoroughly.
This series is highly recommended. As much as possible, the stories are those of native speakers, sometimes speaking their native language with printed transcripts. On occasion, archival material is used. The cinematography is realistic, often showing scenes of people involved in traditional hunting or dancing and making use of modern technology in terms of clothing or filming.
Overall, one would get a sense of the complexity of issues and realize that there are no easy solutions. The relationship of native people with the land is explored from many perspectives very sympathetic to the First Nations.
Although some of the programs are suitable for elementary students, the majority are aimed at high school audiences.
Meredith MacKeen is a teacher-librarian at Souris Regional High School in Souris, Print Edward Island
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