The Other Side of the Ledger: An Indian View of the Hudson's Bay Company

The Other Side of the Ledger: An Indian View of the Hudson's Bay Company

The Hudson’s Bay Company’s 300th-anniversary celebration in 1970 was no occasion for joy among the people whose lives were tied to the trading stores. Narrated by George Manuel, then president of the National Indian Brotherhood, this landmark film presents Indigenous perspectives on the company whose fur-trading empire drove colonization across vast tracts of land in central, western and northern Canada. There is a sharp contrast between the official celebrations, with Queen Elizabeth II among the guests, and what Indigenous people have to say about their lot in the Company’s operations. Released in 1972, the film was co-directed by Martin Defalco and Willie Dunn—a member of the historic Indian Film Crew, an all-Indigenous production unit established at the NFB in 1968.

Following on from scenes of the Hudson’s Bay Company’s 300th anniversary celebration, with Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip in attendance, the film bears down on applying the Aboriginal voice to a rather blunt indictment of a history of inequality in the trade relationship between the HBC and their Indian and Métis suppliers. Co-directed by Willie Dunn of the NFB’s Indian Film Crew.

Gil Cardinal
From the playlist: The Aboriginal Voice: the National Film Board and Aboriginal Filmmaking through the Years

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Credits
  • director
    Martin Defalco
    Willie Dunn
  • executive producer
    George Pearson
  • commentary
    David Wilson
  • editing
    David Wilson
  • photography
    Jean-Pierre Lachapelle
  • sound
    Jean-Guy Normandin
  • sound editing
    John Knight
  • re-recording
    Michel Descombes
  • narrator
    George Manuel

  • None

    I heard about this film on a podcast about HBC and the treatment of our First Nations' peoples. It was really insightful to gain a broader picture of the impact of HBC on remote communities. I was disturbed to learn how people were treated and the arrogance of the company's leaders. The clip of the Queen and the beavers was disgusting in that it emphasized how completely lopsided the treatment of the First Nations was in comparison to the riches the HBC gained from being in Canada... I am going to send a link to many people and ask that they think about what they learn from the film before they consider doing business with HBC. Very enlightening film. Thank you to the makers and to the NFB for making it.

    None, 7 Sep 2020
  • None

    The situation that the native people are in is an impossible one to get out of. Because of the economical dominance the HBC has over these people even if they wanted to buy themselves out of this situation it was impossible because of the social structure of Canada. The HBC and the Government of Canada are to blame for the mistreatment of these innocent people, I wish more people would watch these types to videos to really try to understand how this abuse has affected the Native people of Canada. This isn't about fairness, power or money. We should be able to treat human beings properly, the native people had a way of life and sadly it was taken away from them because of greed.

    None, 29 Mar 2020
  • expo97

    a young tom jackson is listening to the last song.

    expo97, 4 Jan 2014
  • Wamstigoshio

    I was hired by the HBC James Bay District as a clerk in training in 1967. I started at a post on Hudsons Bay and later spent time in the Ungava District. When I came to claim my C.P.P. pension in 2012 I found I was subject to a reduction of 25% as I was now living outside Canada and also subject to income tax. Both sides of 'the counter" paid a heavy price to the people 'in power'. I would 'do it all again' but this time 'stay up north'........

    Wamstigoshio, 10 Dec 2012
  • armandjoe

    The other Sideof The Ledger is of historical significance. Any time a part of Canadian structure it should not be hidden and looked and denied as non existent. In doing so it defies the presence of a hit of sorts on all of Canada.

    armandjoe, 18 Sep 2012
  • createAusername

    All your bay are belong to us

    createAusername, 8 Mar 2012
  • Alkaest

    Est-il possible de voir ce film en français ou avec un sous-titre français ?? Merci !

    Alkaest, 19 Sep 2011
  • sixam

    A better idea would have been to try buying enough shares in the HBC to gain a seat or two on the board of directors to hopefully force some concessions.

    sixam, 3 Jan 2011