Indigenous Spotlight



From the Sami people of Sweden to the Diné people of the Navajo desert, we turn the spotlight on unique Indigenous cultures across Canada and around the world. These films reveal the important role culture plays in our lives, and how traditional practices are vital to ground us.

R2R is proud to work with the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian as our Program Consultant for the Indigenous Spotlight.

Themes: cultural preservation, language, colonialism, craftsmanship

Recommended for grades 4-7 (ages 9+)

This program screens as part of SUNDAY FUN DAY! and REEL FOCUS for elementary schools.

Amásání (The Grandmother)

English and Navajo with English subtitles.

When Riley gets suspended from school, her mother sends her to spend a day with her grandmother. Although Riley is resistant at first, the loving and strong nature of her grandmother opens Riley’s world as she learns something new about her Diné culture and language. Director Stacy Howard was born and raised on the Navajo Nation in Mexican Water, Arizona.

Themes: language, family, cultural preservation, traditional


Local Michif filmmaker Amanda Strong used shadow puppetry and stop motion animation to tell the story of Thunder, an Indigenous student combating the massive influence of European settlers in North America.

Themes: colonialism, cultural preservation

Morit Elena Morit (Wake Up, Elena, Wake Up)

In Sámi with English subtitles.

This atmospheric tale follows a young girl and her reindeer as they try to escape the menacing darkness of colonial oppression in Sápmi. Guided by a spirit, she is reminded to listen to her inner voice and trust her instincts. Both directors draw inspiration from their family traditions.  d Inga-Wiktoria Påve is from a Sámi reindeer herding family in a small village called Lannavaara in Sweden, and Anders Sunna was raised in a reindeer herding family in Kieksiäisvaara.

Themes:  colonialism, protecting cultural traditions, coming to conscience


My Father's Tools

No dialogue.

In this documentary Stephen weaves traditional baskets with the knowledge his Mi'gmaq father passed down to him. He finds and harvests the wood, painstakingly prepares it using mostly traditional tools, and assembles each basket with love, As Stephen weaves, there is a sense of peace and connection to all his father taught him.

Themes: mentorship, craftsmanship, traditional practice, cultural preservation

The Mountain of SGaana

This magical tale entwines traditional animation with formal elements of Haida art. A young fisherman cruises a rugged shoreline as a tiny mouse in Haida regalia appears and starts to knit a blanket. A story unfolds on the blanket, illustrating this ancient story. When a SGaana (the Haida word for “killer whale”) captures master hunter Naa-Naa-Simgat, and drags him down into a supernatural world, the courageous Kuuga Kuns sets off to save him. Will they manage to escape, or will they become part of this deep sea spirit world forever?

Themes: nature, legend, love, environment, folklore

Ukaliq and Kalla Go Fishing

Two unlikely friends, a lemming and an Arctic hare, spend the day ice fishing. The lemming embodies the calm, thoughtful nature of traditional hunters and those that live in the Arctic. By contrast, the rabbit is well-meaning, but impatient. Ukaliq and Kalla is an Inuit tale about the importance of being kind, thoughtful, and prepared for whatever comes.

Themes: friendship, hunting, The North, patience, environment