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Sep. 5, 2023
She revolutionized cinema and is inspiring the next generation of Indigenous filmmakers
On a hot Wednesday morning in July 1990, Alanis Obomsawin was listening to the car radio on her way to work when she heard about shots fired in Kanehsatà:ke. Instead of continuing on to her office at the National Film Board of Canada in Montreal, she sped straight to the Kanien’kehá:ka (Mohawk) community, about an hour’s drive outside the city. Obomsawin, who is Abenaki, would later tell a reporter that she knew an Indigenous person had to be there to document what was happening.
For months, the Kanehsata’kehró:non (Mohawks of Kanehsatà:ke) and a group called the Mohawk Warrior Society (later joined by surrounding communities) had been protesting the neighbouring town of Oka’s proposed golf course expansion and condo development. The planned building site would encroach on sacred Kanehsata’kehró:non land and a burial ground in an area known as the Pines.