Category: Communications and Multi-Media
Founded numerous provincial and national Aboriginal publications and established Alberta’s first Aboriginal radio station; CFWE-FM, Bert Crowfoot helped transform communications for Aboriginal people from the late 1970s. In 2005, he was named one of Alberta Venture’s “100 Entrepreneurs who built Alberta” and was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Tribal Chief’s Institute. Bert Crowfoot is founder and CEO of the Aboriginal Multi-Media Society (AMMSA) and publisher of six publications: Windspeaker (est. 1983); Alberta Sweetgrass (est. 1993);Saskatchewan Sage (est. 1996); BC Raven’s Eye (est. 1997), Ontario Birchbark (est. 2001) and Business Quarterly(est. Nov/2005).
Category: Director – Film
Writer and director of documentaries depicting Maori life since the early 1970s, was the first Maori to direct an award-winning feature film Ngati in 1987. He has proposed that Indigenous filmmaking may be seen as a “Fourth Cinema” and that Indigenous law is the proper law covering the protection of Indigenous treasures. His most recent films are The Feathers of Peace, a feature drama-documentary based on the Moriori people of Rekohu (the Chatham Islands), and The Kaipara Affair, a feature documentary on the mixed community of Tinopai on the Kaipara harbour using two legal traditions to challenge chronic over-fishing by industry in the area.
Tantoo Cardinal is one of North America’s most widely recognized native actresses thanks to films such as Dances with Wolves, Legend of the Fall and Smoke Signals. A strong advocate for protecting true portrayals of Aboriginal people in film, one of the first female Aboriginal actors in the industry with over 50 films to her credit, she has lead the way for Aboriginal actors since the early 1970’s. A world-renowned actress and recipient of numerous awards, Tantoo continues to promote positive roles for Aboriginal women in the film industry. Tantoo Cardinal came of age in Canada during a time when native culture was still viewed with suspicion and even contempt by the Canadian government.
Category: Producer/Director – Film
Alanis Obomsawin is perhaps, not only Canada’s most famous indigenous filmmaker but also one of the more well-known Canadian documentarians. Her work, like that of the National Film Board’s (NFB), is designed to show aspects of Canada not regularly seen. Bursting into the film making scene in 1967 with her own film creation Christmas in Moosefactory has become one of Canada’s most distinguished producers and directors of documentaries. Dedicating her productions to the preservation of Aboriginal history and culture, she paved the way for other Aboriginal filmmakers to pursue social and political change and has received many awards for her strong commitment.
Category: Director/Writer – Film
Beginning in the early 1970’s, Gil Cardinal has produced documentaries that portray current political and social issues of Canada’s Aboriginal people. In 1980 Gil started working with the NFB as a freelance director, researcher, writer and editor. His first film he directed for the Film board was Children of Alcohol (1983), he also shot a series of short documentaries and dramas, notably Hotwalker (1985), before making the film Foster Child which received over 10 international film awards, including a Gemini Award for best direction for a documentary program. Other NFB credits include The Spirit Within (1990), on Native spiritual programs in prisons, and David with F.A.S. (1997), about fetal alcohol syndrome. Gil is a visionary who has utilized dramatic film works to raise awareness of the struggles being experienced by Aboriginal people in Canada.
August Schellenberg (Mohawk) born Montreal, Quebec
Category: Stage and Screen
A 1966 graduate of the National Theatre School of Canada, August began his acting career in the theatre with a six-month tour of Ontario performing for high school students with the Crest Theatre Hour Company. As well, August has appeared at Ontario’s renowned Shaw and Stratford festivals; at Stratford he received the 1967 Tyrone Guthrie Award for most promising young actor. His awards include a 1991 Genie Award for “Black Robe”, a Gemini Award and an Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actor. He has been honored with two Eagle Spirit Awards at the American Indian Film Festival and the First Americans in the Arts have bestowed this incredible actor with three Awards.
Wil Campbell (Metis) born Big River, Saskatchewan
Wil Campbell helped establish the first video program for Aboriginal people with Alberta Native Communications in 1968. He also founded Dreamspeakers Festival Society which has gone on to become an international film festival and continues to be a resource for Aboriginal filmmakers around the world. Will also founded the National Film Board’s Native Studio which gave Aboriginal film makers the opportunity to tell their own stories in their own voices, the program has produced over 47 films. Since 1983 Wil Campbell has produced and directed over 100 weekly television series with Aboriginal themes including “The Spirit Within”.
Jimmy Herman (Dene) born Cold Lake, Alberta
Category: Film and Television
Herman studied at the Grant MacEwan College Native Communications Program. There, he received the Malcolm Calliou Award for his ambition to succeed, and inspire other Aboriginal People to do the same. His acting career began with his role in the Academy Award winning feature “Dances with Wolves” since then Herman has gone on to perform numerous roles in feature films and television series in Canada and the United States, including a role in the Academy Award winning movie, Unforgiven, and a ten-year stint on the popular series North of 60, playing fur trapper Joe Gomba. Passionate about his opportunity to be a positive role model in the Aboriginal community, Herman has spoken frequently to Aboriginal youth in schools, encouraging them to take pride in who they are.
Willie Dunn (Miqmaq/Scottish) born Montreal, Quebec
Wrote and directed Canada’s first music video, the “Ballad of Crowfoot”, in 1971, one of the first NFB films directed by an Aboriginal filmmaker, the film received several awards including a Gold Hugo for best short film at the 1969 Chicago International Film Festival. He has released four full-length albums: Willie Dunn (1971), The Pacific (1980), Metallic (1999) and Son of the Sun (2004). Over the past 30 years Willie has gone on to direct international award winning documentaries, including The Eagle Project, The Voice of the Land and Self-Government. A singer, songwriter, musician, playwright, director, award-winning filmmaker and a First Nations ambassador for Canada, Willie Dunn is one of the Aboriginal community’s true trailblazers.
Gordon Tootoosis (Cree) born Poundmaker Reserve, Saskatchewan
Category: Stage and Screen
Gordon Tootoosis has played the wise and the noble, the cunning and the wicked. This award winning actor made his film debut in 1972 in Alien Thunder, with Chief Dan George. He has since appeared in many theatre and television productions and over 40 feature films including “Legends of the Fall” with Brad Pitt, “The Edge” with Anthony Hopkins, “Reindeer Games”, “Hank Williams First Nation” and has starred in many theatre productions. His television work includes roles in Due South, Lonesome Dove, and Hawkeye, as well as spending five seasons as Albert Golo on North of 60. Gordon is also a 2005 recipient of the Order of Canada.