#tbt ‘Christmas at Moose Factory’

Christmas at Moose Factory
Photo from the production, courtesy of the NFB

By Pat Mullen

It’s Christmas in June with the recent announcement of the NFB’s action plan to improve representation for Indigenous persons in the workplace. In the news, Government Film Commissioner and Chairperson of the NFB Claude Joli-Coeur gave a well-deserved acknowledgment to the career of Alanis Obomsawin, who paved the way for future generations of filmmaker by standing up to a backwards system and fighting for self-representation.

Obomsawin’s first film, Christmas at Moose Factory, is a touching work that asks the children of a Cree village on James Bay to depict their community through drawings. The montage of scribbled homes and black bears transport the viewer to Moose Factory as Obomsawin lets the portaits show life to which other Canadians may relate while also conveying the uniqueness of the children’s experiences. The children narrate as their drawings provide a sense of place and community and, from her earliest work, Obomsawin emphasizes the significance being heard.

“The basic purpose is for our people to have a voice,” said Obomsawin in this 1987 interview. “To be heard is the important thing, no matter what it is that we’re talking about – whether it has to do with having our existence recognized, or whether it has to do with speaking about our values, our survival, our beliefs, that we belong to something that is beautiful…”

Watch Christmas at Moose Factory below from the NFB:

Christmas at Moose Factory, Alanis Obomsawin, provided by the National Film Board of Canada