In her new documentary, We Can't Make the Same Mistake Twice, filmmaker Alanis Obomsawin chronicles the painstaking minutiae of a human rights complaint brought against the federal government by two aboriginal groups alleging Ottawa's child welfare policies discriminated against First Nations children.
The epic work – two hours and 43 minutes long – builds toward what The Globe and Mail's Kate Taylor has described as a "devastating indictment of Ottawa's penny-pinching motivations."
Now, to reward Obomsawin's monumental, years-long effort (the case was filed in 2007), the Toronto Film Critics Association has honoured the filmmaker with the 2016 Technicolor Clyde Gilmour Award, which enables the recipient to award $50,000 to the artist of their choice.
"I'm deeply touched by this recognition from the Toronto Film Critics Association. But what's most special for me is the opportunity you are offering me to help a young filmmaker with $50,000 in services," said Obomsawin, who will announce the recipient in the coming days. "Thank you to the TFCA and Technicolor for this award and for allowing me to assist a fellow artist – something that is very near and dear to my heart."
Obomsawin is one of the country's most acclaimed directors, with 45 films to her name (including the landmark 1990 documentary Kanehsatake: 270 Years of Resistance) and dozens of honours (she is an officer of the Order of Canada, and has won two Governor General's awards, for starters).
"We are thrilled to present this award to such a significant architect of Canadian cinema and culture," TFCA president Brian D. Johnson said in a statement. "After Norman Jewison and Deepa Mehta, Alanis Obosawin is only the third filmmaker to receive the Gilmour, which often goes to those working behind the scenes. As a performer, storyteller, activist, administrator, writer, producer and director, she's been a pioneering force who has enriched the scene from every conceivable angle, while creating a lifetime of movies that matter. This honour is long overdue."
The TFCA will announce the rest of its 2016 awards on Dec. 11, including the Rogers Best Canadian Film Award, which carries a $100,000 cash prize.