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Our Land Is Our Life

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Documenting the resistance of the northern Mistassini Cree, who refuse a $100 million offer from the Government of Quebec for their land, Our Land Is Our Life provides a window into the heart of the Indigenous land-claims movement that began in the 1970s and continues today.   

The Government of Quebec, the federal Minister of Indian and Northern Affairs, Jean Chrétien, and community members come into conflict as industry tries to exploit the abundant resources on an over 100,000-square-mile territory that is unceded James Bay Cree territory, where people continue to live traditional lives as hunters. The hunters detail their concerns about the impact of existing power projects in the area, which has led to a decline in wildlife, in tandem with the loss of language and culture resulting from residential schools. When the community decides that nothing means more to them than their land, they reveal the deep connection between the Cree people and the land, which is integral to their culture, language, knowledge, and worldview—and has no price tag.  

This film was produced as part of Challenge for Change/Société Nouvelle (CFC/SN), a groundbreaking community-engaged documentary program run by the National Film Board from 1967 to 1980. The program pioneered participatory and experimental storytelling in film and video, with a focus on the perspectives of Indigenous and marginalized communities whose voices were rarely represented in the media landscape. In 1968, the Challenge for Change program established the “Indian Film Crew,” marking the beginning of a movement of Indigenous filmmaking at the NFB and in Canada. 

For more information on CFC/SN: https://www.nfb.ca/playlists/michael-brendan-thomas-waugh-ezra-winton/challenge-for-change/

1974, 57 min 50 s

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