This theme offers film excerpts on land claims, management of natural resources, ancestral rights and recovery of Aboriginal cultural artefacts. It also presents images showing the resistance of Aboriginal peoples to repression by non-Aboriginal culture.


The Healing Journey – This theme deals with Aboriginal peoples’ struggle for self-determination and self-government with specific examinations of the struggles over treaty land entitlements, control over natural resources, and rights to ancestral lands and cultural artifacts. The films associated with this theme portray a rich and proud history of struggle by Aboriginal people while on the healing journey.

Aboriginal people have had to fight to maintain their cultural identity, sovereignty over traditional territories, and rights to full participation in Canada’s constitutional democracy. Since contact with European influences Aboriginal people have had to resist or conform to the teachings and methods of Christian missionaries and their economic counterparts, the trading companies. What resulted was a loss of language, a loss of traditional rituals, ceremonies and traditions as well as a loss of political self-determination.

As expansion continued westward government policies were developed to further address the Indian Problem. With the institution of the reserve system, residential schools and the Indian Act the government of the day essentially undermined the sovereignty of all Native peoples.

Despite these concerted efforts Aboriginal people have risen and continue to rise through such accomplishments as:

  • The enshrinement of Aboriginal rights in the Canadian constitution.
  • Abolition of the residential school system and compensation for its victims.
  • Resolution of long-standing disputes over specific and comprehensive land claims.
  • Formation of Aboriginal education, health care and judicial systems.

While there have been many strides forward in the healing journey there is a renewed spirit of determination that guides Aboriginal people facing the challenges that remain.

© National Film Board of Canada | Copyright | Accessibility | Credits
This web site is partly funded by Canadian Culture Online