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An Afternoon with Alanis Obomsawin

Sunday, June 18, 2023

Innis Town Hall, Innis College, 2 Sussex Ave.

Ahead of the career-spanning exhibition The Children Have to Hear Another Story: Alanis Obomsawin opening at the Art Museum on September 6, join us for a special screening of two of Obomsawin’s deeply moving documentaries When All the Leaves are Gone (2010) and Honour to Senator Murray Sinclair (2021). A discussion with Obomsawin moderated by Kerry Swanson follows the screening.

This event is free and all are welcome. Registration is required.

Co-presented by the Art Museum with the University of Toronto’s Cinema Studies Institute and Innis College.

About the Speakers

A member of the Abenaki Nation, Alanis Obomsawin is an internationally recognized singer-songwriter, storyteller, engraver, printmaker, activist, teacher, and director of over 50 films, including Christmas at Moose Factory, Incident at Restigouche, Kanehsatake: 270 Years of Resistance, Trick or Treaty, and Our People Will Be Healed. She has worked as a producer with the National Film Board since 1967. Recipient of many honours, including a Glenn Gould Prize, the status of Companion of the Order of Canada, and the 2023 Edward MacDowell Medal, Alanis Obomsawin will receive a Doctor of Laws, honoris causa, from the University of Toronto on June 19, 2023.

Kerry Swanson is the Chief Executive Officer of the Indigenous Screen Office (ISO), co-founder and strategic advisor for Indigenous Fashion Arts Festival, has served as both Board Chair and Executive Director of the imagineNATIVE Film and Media Arts Festival, and has worked in leadership roles at provincial and municipal funding agencies. Kerry was born and raised in Chapleau, northern Ontario, in a Cree/Ojibwe, Irish and French family. She is a member of Michipicoten First Nation with familial ties to Chapleau Cree First Nation.

About the Films

When All the Leaves are Gone
(Alanis Obomsawin, 2010 | 17 minutes)
As the only First Nations student in an all-white 1940s school, eight-year old Wato is keenly aware of the hostility towards her. She deeply misses the loving environment of the reserve she once called home, and her isolation is sharpened by her father’s serious illness. When Wato’s teacher reads from a history book describing First Nations peoples as ignorant and cruel, it aggravates her classmates’ prejudice. Shy and vulnerable Wato becomes the target of their bullying and abuse. Alone in her suffering, she finds solace and strength in the protective world of her magical dreams.

Inspired by personal experiences of writer and director Alanis Obomsawin, When All the Leaves are Gone combines autobiography, fiction and fable to create a deeply moving story about the power of dreams.

Honour to Senator Murray Sinclair
(Alanis Obomsawin, 2021 | 29 minutes)
As the Chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Senator Murray Sinclair was a key figure in raising global awareness of the atrocities of Canada’s residential school system. With determination, wisdom and kindness, Senator Sinclair remains steadfast in his belief that the path to actual reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people requires understanding and accepting often difficult truths about Canada’s past and present. Alanis Obomsawin shares the powerful speech the Senator gave when he accepted the WFM-Canada World Peace Award, interspersing the heartbreaking testimonies of former students imprisoned at residential schools. The honouring of Senator Sinclair reminds us to honour the lives and legacies of the tens of thousands of Indigenous children taken from their homes and cultures, and leaves us with a profound feeling of hope for a better future.

Title and Page Image: Photo by Dominique Lafond.

A smiling Alanis Obomsawin wrapped in a red garment.

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