Alanis Obomsawin receives Glenn Gould Prize at ceremony in Toronto

‘It’s a very different time,’ says documentary maker who believes Canadians are interested in justice for Indigenous Peoples.


With the façade of the Royal Ontario Museum illuminated by a light show a tribute to Alanis Obomsawin, the Abenaki documentary maker receives yet another award for illuminating Indigenous issues for all to see.

“As Lieutenant Governor, it is such a real privilege to congratulate Alanis Obomsawin for winning the prestigious Glenn Gould Prize,” announced Elizabeth Dowdeswell.

The prize, named after the famed Canadian pianist, is awarded biennially to recognize a unique lifetime of enriching the human condition through the arts.

Obomsawin, 89, has produced 53 films over her 54-year career including Kahnesatake: 270 Years of Resistance, The Incident at Restigouche, Trick or Treaty, We Can’t Make the Same Mistake Twice and more recently, her short film on the former chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Murray Sinclair which was premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival.

Reflecting on her work, Obomsawin says times have changed.

“It’s a very, very, very different time,” she told APTN News before the ceremony. “It’s nice for me to see and hear Canadians, in general, being very curious and really want to see justice to our people. And so there’s a feeling of being welcome everywhere. So, it’s a big change.”

Alanis Obomsawin at the Glenn Gould Prize ceremony. Photo: Allana McDougall/APTN.

Obomsawin says when she sees the work of young Indigenous artists, she feels confident about the future.

“It makes me feel less worried,” she says. “Some say, ‘oh when I die there’s all these young people that are going to take over,’ they are already and it’s a very comforting feeling for me to see that and I am amazed by what everyone is doing.”

In turn, Obomsawin presented Ojibway documentarian Victoria Anderson-Gardner from Eagle Lake First Nation in Ontario with the Glenn Gould Protégé Award for her film, Becoming Nakuset.

“It’s a very big honour and I feel very grateful and there’s honestly not a lot of words for how I feel right now,” she says.

Obomsawin is fresh off the TIFF where she received a lifetime achievement award.

The Glenn Gould Prize comes with a purse of $100,000.


Correction: The original story said that Victoria Anderson-Gardner was Mi’kmaq. The documentarian is Ojibway from Eagle Lake First Nation in Ontario. APTN apologizes for the error. 

Video Journalist / Toronto

Allana is a graduate of the Indigenous Studies program at Trent University and the new media journalism program at Sheridan College. She worked at Sudbury.com and TVO before coming to APTN National News where she now covers Indigenous stories in Southern Ontario as a video journalist. McDougall is a member of Hiawatha First Nation.