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Alanis Obomsawin

Québec film pioneer
Honorary Doctorate in Film Studies

Alanis Obomsawin, a multidisciplinary artist and member of the Abenaki Nation, is one of Canada's most distinguished documentary filmmakers. A producer and filmmaker at the National Film Board of Canada (NFB) since 1967, she has made over 50 documentaries for the NFB and is known for her social and political involvement. 

Alanis Obomsawin got her start as a professional singer and storyteller, performing on reserves, in schools, in prisons, at music festivals, and on television. In 1966, she was profiled on the CBC program Telescope, which led to NFB producers Wolf Koenig and Bob Verrall hiring her as a consultant on First Nations projects. 

Her commitment to sharing and addressing Indigenous peoples' concerns has shaped her filmmaking style, which resides in her ability to pair oral traditions with documentary filmmaking methods. Her productions shed light on Indigenous realities and struggles. One of her films led to a government report on social services for Indigenous people. 

Alanis Obomsawin was made a Member of the Order of Canada in 1983, promoted to Officer in 2001, and to Companion in 2019. She also holds the title of Grand Officer of the Ordre national du Québec in 2016. Her artistic accomplishments, her work with young Indigenous people, and her advocacy for Indigenous rights have earned her several Governor General's Awards.

At the 2020 Gala Québec Cinéma awards, she was presented with the Iris Tribute award in recognition of her achievements, exemplary career, and a body of work that has significantly enhanced the reputation of Québec cinema. She received the Canadian Screen Awards' Humanitarian Award in 2014 for her «outstanding contribution to the community and public service» and the Prix Albert-Tessier, Québec's highest distinction in cinema, in 2016. In July 2023, Alanis Obomsawin will be awarded with the 63rd Edward MacDowell Medal. She is the first female filmmaker to win this prestigious award presented to artists who have made an outstanding contribution to culture.  

Université Laval is proud to award Alanis Obomsawin an Honorary Doctorate in Film Studies to celebrate her many contributions and the significant impact they have had on Québec society.