Discover Nova Scotia—from its big cities and rural areas to its small towns and remote communities—through a selection of films that shines a spotlight on the province’s hidden treasures and fascinating characters. Suitable for both primary and secondary level students, this playlist includes animated and documentary films. These seminal works from our collection address the topics that matter most, ranging from historical subjects to the most pressing issues of the day.
Africville, a small black settlement, lay within the city limits of Halifax, Nova Scotia. In the 1960s, the families who lived there were uprooted and their homes demolished in the name of urban renewal and integration. Now, more than twenty years later, the site of the community of Africville is a stark, under-utilized park. Former residents, their descendants and some of the decision-makers, speak out and, with the help of archival photographs and films, tell the story of that painful relocation.
Eskasoni is the home of celebrated Mi’kmaq poet Rita Joe. This Cape Breton village is enjoying a revival of Indigenous traditions and spirituality which inspires much of Rita Joe's writing. For twenty years her poetry and her presence have touched thousands with dignity. This video is a celebration of the spiritual pride of the Mi’kmaq as embodied in Rita Joe's writings and her life.
On the morning of December 6, 1917, two ships, one of which was loaded with munitions, collided in Halifax Harbour. The explosion which followed levelled two square miles of the city, killed over 1600 people and left thousands wounded and homeless. Through interviews with survivors and photographs of the devastation, this dramatically recounts the events.
In their predominantly white high school in Halifax, a group of black students face daily reminders of racism, ranging from abuse (racist graffiti on washroom walls), to exclusion (the omission of black history from textbooks). They work to establish a Cultural Awareness Youth Group, a vehicle for building pride and self-esteem through educational and cultural programs. With help from mentors, they discover the richness of their heritage and learn some of the ways they can begin to effect change.
This documentary pays tribute to a group of Canadians who took racism to court. They are Canada's unsung heroes in the fight for Black civil rights. Focusing on the 1930s to the 1950s, this film documents the struggle of 6 people who refused to accept inequality. Featured here, among others, are Viola Desmond, a woman who insisted on keeping her seat at the Roseland movie theatre in New Glasgow, Nova Scotia in 1946 rather than moving to the section normally reserved for the city's Black population, and Fred Christie, who took his case to the Supreme Court after being denied service at a Montreal tavern in 1936. These brave pioneers helped secure justice for all Canadians. Their stories deserve to be told.
Josh Crooks is a promising teen hockey star in a sport where Black players like him are chronically underrepresented. Ice Breakers reveals the buried history of a pioneering Black hockey league in Atlantic Canada, as Crooks discovers that his unshakable passion is tied to a rich and remarkable heritage.
Feisty, fiercely independent and firmly rooted in place, 90 year-old Mabel Robinson broke barriers back in the 40s when she became the first woman in Hubbards, Nova Scotia, to launch her own business—a hairdressing salon where she still provides shampoo-n-sets over 70 years later. Weaving animation and archival imagery with intimate and laugh out loud moments in the salon, the film celebrates the power of friendship, doing what you love and staying active. With no desire to retire anytime soon, Mabel gives voice to a generation who are not front and center of cinema or the pop hairstyles of the day, and subtly shifts the lens on our perception of beauty and the elderly.
In 1983, fifteen Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, landowners went to court to stop the spraying of herbicides by the local subsidiary of a Swedish multinational on forests adjacent to their properties. They found that the testimony of scientists and the support of public opinion, both here and abroad, were not enough to win their case. The film shows their ordeal and the landmark Sydney trial. Concerns raised included potential conflict-of-interest situations where a government must protect citizens' health while supporting certain kinds of industry; the relative value of the political and judicial processes in mediating social problems; and the need for a public forum for debating environmental issues. The film contains outstanding footage from chemical-industry films of the 1950s and recent material about Vietnam veterans affected by Agent Orange.
In this feature-length documentary, photographer Nance Ackerman describes the havoc prescription painkiller OxyContin wreaked in the already weakened Cape Breton town of Glace Bay. The film guides us through a culture of economic and social depression where we encounter men and women at different stages of dependency. Demystifying the world of the addict while showing us the complex social nexus that led to such despair, Cottonland emphasizes the importance of a collective approach to tackling addiction.
In this short film from the I Can Make Art Like... series, a group of Grade 6 students are inspired by Maud Lewis, the celebrated Nova Scotian folk artist who painted scenes of country life. With the help of artist Kyle Jackson, they create a folk art painting of their own downtown neighbourhood. Informative, touching and filled with the magic of creation, this film shows both the power and simple pleasure of folk art.
Learning Peace: A Big School with a Big Heart chronicles a year at Annapolis East Elementary. A school where over 700 kids play, study, meet and--like kids everywhere--sometimes fight.
But thanks to an anti-violence program introduced in 1996 by principal Heather Harris, bullying and fighting have become a rarity.
Peace education has been fully integrated into the school curriculum. Meanwhile, a peer mediation program helps students settle disputes, good behaviour is rewarded at monthly assemblies, and a full-time counsellor devotes his days (lunch hours and breaks included) to helping kids address anger.
Over the course of a year, it becomes clear that peace is hard work--but well worth the effort.
When an extraordinary new resident – Balakrishna, an Indian elephant – arrived in the town of East River, Nova Scotia, in 1967, no one was more in awe of the creature than young Winton Cook, who became inseparable from his mammoth new friend. Using painterly animation, photographs and home-movie treasures, Balakrishna transmits the wistfulness of childhood memories, while evoking themes of friendship and loss, and issues of immigration and elephant conservation.