Skip to main content

// Films // We Can't Make the Same Mistake Twice

National Film Board

We Can't Make the Same Mistake Twice

Alanis Obomsawin / Canada / 2016 / 163 ' / English


Alison Burns
Alanis Obomsawin
Donald Ayer
Lauren Bélec
Alanis Obomsawin
The National Film Board of Canada
Camera: René Sioui Labelle, Philippe Amiguet, German Gutierrez, Maarten Kroonenburg
Location Sound: Glenn Hodgins, Thierry Morlaas-Lurbe, Marco Fania, Yann Cleary, Kim Nguyen

Links & Reviews

Awards & Festivals

Official Selection, Vancouver International Film Festival 2016
Official Selection, Calgary International Film Festival 2016
Official Selection, Toronto International Film Festival 2016
Official Selection, imagineNATIVE Film and Media Arts Festival 2016
Official Selection, RIDM 2016
Official Selection, Atlantic Film Festival 2016

Upcoming Screenings

Stay tuned for upcoming screenings!

previously screened

In Production

This doc focuses on a landmark discrimination case exposing injustices lived by First Nations community in Yukon when receiving child and welfare services.


In 2007, the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada and the Assembly of First Nations filed a complaint against Indian Affairs and Northern Development Canada, accusing it of discrimination. They argued that the family and child support services made available to First Nations children on reserves and in Yukon were underfunded and inferior to those offered to other Canadian children. Indigenous children were also six to eight times more likely to be placed in foster care—more often than not in non-Native homes. This situation was reminiscent of the assimilation and trauma caused by residential schools, which was also widely discussed during the trial.

Including the many appeals, the legal process spanned nine long years before finally ending in victory for the plaintiffs in 2016. WE CAN'T MAKE THE SAME MISTAKE TWICE gives a voice to those involved in this legal battle, notably Cindy Blackstock, Executive Director of the FNCFCSC, who endured government spying and retaliation as a result of her central role in the trial. Abenaki filmmaker Alanis Obomsawin guides us through the intricacies of the legal system while never losing sight of the real issues at stake: the welfare of children and the survival of Indigenous cultures.


Join us on Facebook