The Invisible Nation

The Invisible NationThe Algonquin once lived in harmony with the vast territory they occupied. This balance was upset when the Europeans arrived in the 16th century.

Gradually, their Aboriginal traditions were undermined and their natural resources plundered.

Today, barely 9,000 Algonquin are left. They live in about 10 communities, often enduring abject poverty and human rights abuses. These Aboriginal people are suffering the threat to their very existence in silence.

Richard Desjardins and Robert Monderie have decided to sound the alarm before it's too late. They challenge perceptions by spotlighting the sad reality of the Algonquin of Quebec and bringing the history of this people to the screen for the first time.

Watch the full documentary now

Ratings: 8.19/10 from 32 users.

More great documentaries

53 Comments / User Reviews

  1. avd420

    Natives living in harmony is a myth.

  2. Alex Sala

    These people's experience, their living testimony belies the image that Quebec and the Catholic church/Oblate order would like to convey.

    And then the fact that the first comment here in the face of all these communities have suffered is racist and disparaging. Imagine your kids were forcefully taken away, beaten, raped and taught to hate who they were?

    I guess it's easy for people in a country as generally reasonable as Canada to not see this kind of thing happening while lecturing others about human rights and a culture of tolerance.

    Where the outrage for the victims?

  3. Paul MacLeod

    How can you state that!?
    These indiginous people didn't go about strip mining and consuming everything in sight for the sake of personal financial gain adn to hell with the cost! How these aboriginal peoples went about their daily lives 400 years ago is more harmonious than what we are doing now and have done in the past!!

  4. Christinne Radu

    Develop please, justify....

  5. Christinne Radu

    ....or shut the hell up if u dont know what ure talking about

  6. Bids76 bids76

    they were conquered, the end. it has happened many time before through out all of history.. where is the british peoples monies for the roman occupation that lasted hundreds of years. or all the hand outs for the blacks that were abducted from africa and forced to work as slaves in america. and so on and so on.. it has happened, there is no way for these peoples to live the lives they used to live, they need to move on just like everyone else had to. adapt to the new times upon them or have happen exactly what they say is happening. extinction. I am so sick of hearing this crap about the natives. they can all work and many choose not too. they live off the govt, and then dont even use the money responsibly. I for one believe the hand outs should stop, and they should integrate themselves into society be fore it istoo late for their people.

  7. dmxi

    crikey,you & the gestapo av(i)d420 creature sure know how to solve
    or grasp peoples of non-consumer based societies.especially YOU,TITS76,as you use the term 'conquered' as stupidity conquered
    your brain......& this is not meant derogative nor diminutive.

  8. Fabien L'Amour

    One thing I don't understand is why the Maniwaki Algonquins aren't helping the rest of the Algonquins. It seems they are doing so much better then the other bands. Seems to me there are lessons to be learned from that successful tribe. I think the most important one would be to learn how they negotiated their 2.7 millions dollars reparation.

    The Cree, Inuits and Haskapis who are just north of them got 14000 km² and 225 millions dollars from the Quebec Government, I don't understand why the Algonquins can't organize themselves to negotiate as a group, like several other native tribes did all across Canada.

  9. Carl Hendershot

    Canada is going to find that failing to help there own will only end up back firing soon. These are good people who deserve more. Canada should pull its depressive head out of their ass.

  10. Carl Hendershot

    and smoking weed does not hinder intelligence. LMFAO

  11. Plonkette

    Yep. We should scalp our enemies more, and do massive human sacrifices. It'd be a better world.

  12. fl260

    Richard Desjardins on TDF?
    Vlatko, you're awesome.

  13. fl260

    Of course, our culture is an absolutely non-violent one. We eat the heart of every animals we kill and have an enormous respect towards our cattle. Also, we never go to war over economics reasons, and if we do, we do it with respect and dignity, without peeing on innocent civilians's corpses and by omitting to show people the reality of it. We never do that.
    Just like we didn't kill over 250 millions aboriginal people on the new continent in order to make ourselves some space.
    Oh what, you're sick and cold because we've burnt your village, my poor savage? Here, take this blanket and warm up yourself.
    No blood, no scalp, nothing. Nothing we can see with our eyes, so it's OK.

  14. avd420

    I say it because they constantly fought wars against other tribes and they've hunted many animals to extinction.

  15. avd420

    Luckily I have enough to spare.

  16. Kateye70

    What animals did they hunt to extinction?

  17. avd420

    Google it

  18. AllanA

    It's amazing how similar the stories are of native Americans and these people. My friend was a Navaho and his stories pretty much echoed the same as what had happened to Algonquins, 3000 miles away. He told me of stories where he was beaten much the same way as people were here. I count my lucky stars that I wasn't raised in any religious atmosphere. A big source of these people's problems. If it wasn't for the green light given the religious institutions I wonder what the whites would have gotten away with?

    RIP Dale.

  19. Jack1952

    The indigenous people didn't choose the lifestyle. It was what they were born into. It was the stage of development of their culture and it wasn't easy. Like this video said, winter was their nightmare. Death surrounded the human encampments. This was the land of the blackfly. You don't know misery until you have faced the incessant presence of clouds of this voracious little insect. The idea that they lived in harmonious bliss in tune with the movements of nature is an idealized vision of a dreamy eyed and unhappy segment of modern society. Its easy to go on a camping trip or a drive through the northern backroads and reflect on the beauty of nature in the comfort of our modern safety nets. The truth is that this was a harsh existence, with child mortality rates high and a short life span. A life very few of us would want.

    Without a doubt modern society has its problems. However, those of us fortunate enough to live in the industrialized west are also fortunate enough to live in a time where our lives have never been better. Everything that the indigenous people that this video describes had to struggle for, under the threat of death, we take for granted. We do have issues to settle but in the end almost everyone of us would choose our lifestyle over that of the Algonquin people of Pre-Columbian times.

  20. artalis

    If the Agonquin wish to live in a more traditional manner on ancestral land, why shouldn't such a modest request be granted and why should they not be supported towards complete autonomy, since so much has been stolen already. Any civilised country looks after all of its own people.

  21. James Tod

    Indians are different they are a mixed race of people that's part white . African people respect the Indians because they been throw the same struggle with the white man. Most people that's part white don't like listening to Orders of some other race of people . They will not listen to the white man rules and laws . Because the USA Originally belongs to them . We must respect that . This is like walking in to some one's house and giving them orders on how to live . With war murder and slavery . The Indians Are the Original blood lines of the Spanish ,Brazil , India,Chinese And Japanese Asians ,. If we push them off there land . It could start all kinds of wars from different countries . Knowing the Native people no longer stand there ground . They maybe poor . But they are highly respected from Nations of people all over the world . Because they are the Original blood line . Like the wise men say . Let them go on there own free will . The indigenous people didn't choose the lifestyle. It was what they were born into . it's in there blood .

  22. Jo McKay

    I prefer not to reply to obvious ignorance;the language u use is obvious & unoriginal, so one just knows it's the kind of vitriol that's gets handed down generation to generation. I only wish that this gen would do some of it's own research. If u live in Canada there are ample opportunities to take an aboriginal peoples class (even in elementary or high school), so for such ignorance continuing there is NO excuse... As for any other argument, they are mute (not necessary) in the FACT that...First Peoples in Canada were 'needed' during 150 years of fur trade, were 'needed' during war with the French, were 'needed' during English war with the US (1812 ring a bell? - If not for First Peoples, half, at least of Canada would be part of the American states)...For those & many other reasons... Nation to Nation INTERNATIONAL TREATIES were signed. (NOTE: No conquest here). These Treaties recognized First Nation original ownership of the LANDS, and offered a two way agreement to SHARE the land and it's resources. NOW, please tell me, if your own ancestors owned a lot of land and had use agreements on that land, would u say, well that was a long time ago, doesn't count today??? Ya, I doubt it. These historic treaties have no sell by long as the sun shine... !

  23. Jo McKay

    "Today, Canada joins other countries in supporting the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples." - that was July 2012 -
    This was an important story highlighting what happens when land owners (sometimes seen as partners, sometimes as dependents who can be ignored and dis-enfranchised in abhorrent ways) have protection from their rights (not forced into religious residential schools), and subsequent economic opportunity, as is the case with one community who still control their lands, compared to those who are 'failed' by the same system.
    Quote From part of the Justice Commission on Aboriginal People- Final Report 2001
    "Canada’s treatment of its first citizens has been an international disgrace. To fail to take every needed step to redress this lingering injustice will continue to bring tragedy and suffering to Aboriginal people, and to blacken our country’s name throughout the world…
    We recommend:
    As a matter of urgent importance, governments and Aboriginal people, with the assistance of the Aboriginal Justice Commission, negotiate an acceptable process to provide ongoing funding for Aboriginal governments to undertake the initiatives we suggest, in a manner consistent with:
    -The need of Aboriginal people for an ongoing, consistent revenue base.
    -The right of Aboriginal people, as original owners of the land, to a fair share of revenue resources from both levels of government.
    -The greater access to the revenue-generating powers and sources available to federal and provincial governments."
    Apologies have been given, but there is much yet to answer for, and the only way to answer where forgiveness and change might follow is to DO the RIGHT THING, finally, and act upon the spirit and intent of the shared lands and resources, and the rights of life and freedoms that were understood in the Treaties. When Honour and Honesty arrive, then there will be peace - until then the only recourse for aboriginal people in Canada is in Court!

  24. edward westphal

    stephan harper,[the german],supports these 'actions'!

    why don't the indians hire jewish lawyers,in canada!!!!

  25. edward westphal

    are native people,in canada,unaware of native people all over the world?do they not have computers ,on reserves?can'a native kid in canada ,not contact a native kid in mexico,or brazil,or africa,or any other place in the world!!like,say 'cuba'?
    they just don't know how to fight!given a beautifull weapon like a computer,i doubt they'd stumble through the bush ,trying to spear a moose!

    the whole world hates 'god',....not because he's evil,....he just doesen't exist!!!!

    the native kids were right!from day 1!

  26. edward westphal

    i think all 'germans',in canada,should be put on reserves!after all they lost in the second war.

    it's not biggotry!!!!

  27. edward westphal

    why doesn't the queen of england 'visit the reserves',all over canada?????

  28. Brad

    Really? How is it a myth?

  29. William David Goldman

    How can you hate someone who doesn't exist? A contradiction there. You hate Him because His existence seems too challenging to you?

  30. mycial

    We all must remember that 2+2=5 that only comprehend to do as your told. For some reason why is it that Europeans who traveled on this earth always had to kill steal & destroy I'm not fully understanding this from Africa to Asia to the Americas. Where does this mind control come from? They kill you, give you the bible & tell you to obey your masters. Rape your children & your land, animals & go to church on Sunday none of this makes sense to me.

  31. Jack1952

    These people faced extreme cold, extreme heat, voracious insects, predators, hunger, disease, outside human invasion, high child mortality rates, short life spans, just to start. The average child born did not make it to adulthood. It had to be this way so the land could support a sustainable human population. Humanity in its struggle to survive on limited space developed agriculture and from there the technologies that brought to where we are today. Without it we would not have the human population that we have today. In other words, almost all of our ancestors would have to have died in childhood, before child bearing years, and most of us would never have been born, including you, for this "harmonious" existence to exist into perpetuity. The Algonquin did not make a conscious decision to abstain from strip mining. They were not at the point in their cultural development to even understand the concept.

    We have no idea where our civilization is headed. We could be on the road to destruction, like so many gloomy pessimists so dourly predict, or maybe a new age of enlightenment...the forecast of the new age mystics. We just don't know, not really. One thing is certain. To get to where we are going we have to be where we are today. We can't skip over the processes we don't like.

    Do not think that I am defending strip mining. What I am saying is that it may well be a process that has been repeated all over the universe by developing technological civilizations. We have only one example to draw from, namely humanity. If we ever make contact with alien civilizations, we may find to our surprise, that their history may parallel our own.

    The word harmony brings with it a feeling of tranquillity and peace. I doubt that this was the reality of life for the pre-Columbian Algonquin people.

  32. Devon Griffiths

    While the European arrival certainly precipitated their demise as a nation, it's difficult to place the blame here entirely on the Europeans. The Iroqouis and Algonquins had been fighting a genocidal war for decades when the French first made contact with natives in the area. It wasn't European wars that decimated the Algonquin - it was the same old conflict with the Iroqouis.

    They were simply unlucky on two accounts. First, the Iroqouis were much more warlike and much more organized and motivated. Before the Europeans the Algonquin had always been on the defensive. The Iroqouis were, in some ways, similar to the Europeans. They were driven in their wars by a vision of the "Great Peace" and this vision demanded that their neighbours either lay down their arms and submit to the Confederacy as tributaries, their vassalage agreement encoded for all time in a wampum, or, be exterminated to the last man and child ... to ensure the Great Peace.

    Their second misfortune was that they became allies with the French, because they were the first of the two groups that the French came across. It would have been better for them, if the French had met the Iroqouis first, and the Dutch and English had met the Algonquins first, rather than the other way around. Because while they all sold guns - the French insisted that they would only trade guns with converts, and only 1 gun per convert. The Dutch and the English made no such demand and freely traded guns with their Iroqouis allies, who subsequently wiped out the Algonquins along with dozens of other tribes across the entire Great Lakes/St Lawrence area, from Quebec to Michigan, until finally the Ojibwa managed to halt them.

  33. Devon Griffiths

    Ah, the old Noble Savage myth.

    I'm afraid that if we all practiced a lifestyle and economy similar to the natives today, with our present population, the nation would be stripped of trees in about a generation, the soil would turn to crap, and we'd all be starving. This is because they practiced slash-and-burn agriculture - similar to what is happening in Brazilian deforestation today. You slash and burn all the forest away, grow crops on that spot for a year, then it's ruined, so you move on and do it again. With the population they had this had little effect on anything but with so many millions today, it would be utterly devastating.

    Schoolchildren are frequently taught that natives "made use of all parts of an animal". While it's true they *had* a use for every part, it isn't like they actually *used* all the parts. One famous native site in Western Canada is called "Head Smashed In Buffalo Jump". At this site, natives would chase an entire herd of buffalo off a cliff. Yes its true they collected a few bits of everything - eyes, horns, hooves etc - and had a use for it all. But they didn't collect all the bits, not even close. Most of the buffalo driven off the cliff were simply left to rot; there was no way they could eat them all or make use of that much material.

  34. Henry Lastname

    Thank you Jack1952, the only plausible explanation

  35. Daniela Perkins

    I would like to get in touch with the producer of this Documentary. Can anyone point me int he right direction on this sight to do so?

  36. luna_k123

    Your comments, Devon present a few historical events but show an extreme lack of understanding for American Indian ways of being. You cannot look at the events of another culture through the lens of a strictly Western imagination and hope to gain an ounce of understanding. Additionally, swidden or rotational farming ("slash-and-burn") is most often a highly sustainable method of agriculture. The ashes from the trees nourish the soil and after a few years of production the plot is left to fallow and then returned to after 15 to 20 years, after secondary growth has taken over. It is then burned again. It does not decimate the forest, as these plots are returned to with great familiarity. Indigenous societies often create forest through their practices. Yes, the 'noble savage' is a faulty imaginary, but so is the 'savage.'

  37. Carl Hendershot

    Good answer ;)

  38. Rohyp Gnosis

    I agree with what you say, albeit I'd say 'European Christian Culture' instead of just 'European'.
    The aggressive expansion of European peoples across the world occurred
    at a time when the control of that corrupt and cruel 'business' called
    Christianity was at its peak. At the same time various technologies
    happened to have coalesced at that time to facilitate the start of the
    pillaging of the Earth. My point is that if it hadn't happened then, it
    would have inevitably happened by a different culture at a later date,
    (e.g. Ottoman, Indian, etc.). It's a case that Human's have a 'mean
    streak' and are greedy and, when cultures create the tools to exploit
    others on an industrial scale they will do so. I am not in any way
    excusing the, at times, disgusting history and legacy of Europeans...
    but making a distinction between 'European Culture' and 'European
    races': i.e. There is nothing genetic in a European to make them act
    that way, but we are all children of the strengths and failings of the
    culture created by our ancestors

    Things do change though. If
    you look at many current (mainly Northern) European countries there is a
    passionate, and practical, sense of equality with other cultures and
    races. Any sense of 'imperialist superiority' is anathema to the
    majority of citizens of those countries. It is no coincidence that these
    more progressive European nations are also amongst the least religious,
    and most educated in the world. So please can we distinguish between
    'races' and 'culture'.

    p.s. I am European. Have never
    known anyone who is 'religious' and am a passionate secularist. The
    oppression of individuals, cultures or races by others sickens me.
    p.p.s. If it is of any interest I am distantly related to Virgina Dare,
    from Roanoke, (Honestly... My Y Chromosomal DNA is on file with the
    investigators trying to determine the extent of assimilation between the
    inhabitants of Roanoke and the first colony of Europeans)

  39. Jane Brown

    The Europeans are more animalistic than the people of color.

  40. Elissa Sangi

    The power of war, the power of power, the power of money. Today it's not about the power of money but for the power of power.They have the money end of power sewn up tight There are about 5 men, above & beyond, who call the shots for the entire world - for the power. (always thinking/acting in the future, for the future). Within such an anomaly, there is no care for humans. Their decisions have been made to de-populate the world through any possible means, (among other things) because they have the power. These men call the shots for the 'ruling elite' because they have the power to do so and no longer is this a hidden agenda. They don't care who lives or dies or how they die. It's all about a one world economy of their making. The monarchy, etc. are simply their tools.

  41. Elissa Sangi

    Very strangely implied, indeed. The white european elite hve made people that way through their living conditions and making them grovel to survive. 'Subjects', as they don't mind being labeled, tend to get kicked in the groin, to the curb.

  42. Katie

    There are no native people in Cuba, they were wiped out during colonization. I really don't understand your argument regardless...

  43. maryE.T.

    Even though the French, nor British, had any moral right to battle any Native American in order to steal their homes and land, I'm not so sure this documentary is about placing historical blame. Granted, it explained a history of abuse, but the main point is NOW who will help these poor people? They are human beings. They have been, and still are being wronged. What is going to be done to put an end to that abuse and neglect in these supposedly modern and enlightened times? Who will dare to collectively stand up to leaders and insist they get off of their respective backsides and right this wrong? Who really cares enough to truly love their fellow man as they profess to on Sunday morning? It is a tragedy when cocaine is more readily available to their young than a cheap bag of flour is to nourish their family. Where does this unconcerned attitude in more fortunate people come from, and exactly who is prospering at the expense of these poor natives? There is no rationalizing such miscarriages of morality in mankind - especially not in these modern times.

  44. maryE.T.

    All people are of color - one shade or another - a part of the beauty that still remains in this world. Behavior, for worse or better, evolves from that organ called the brain, not the organ called skin. Behavior is an individual choice, not a collective act born of particular color or shade - though behavior can be influenced, for right or wrong, especially when the mind is in a vulnerable and developing stage. The good news is that people can receive education throughout their entire lives, if only they permit themselves to be receptive to nurturing the process of thinking. It is a great feeling to look in the mirror and genuinely like and respect all that is reflected back.

  45. maryE.T.

    Very well stated. I share those same thoughts. I believe it is that, among those who will even care, most do not understand a native's reasoning for longing to continue their ancestral ways, really no different than the Amish insist. So the effort to forcefully convert them is on-going.

  46. crbowley

    These people were not "conquered", they were just plain lied to.
    They had no war with the Europeans, but assisted in wars to protect what is now Canada. The indigenous people of Canada are not the owners of the land, but they were and still consider themselves now, the caretakers of the land. They've watched the Europeans destroy the land, water and air, and have been helpless to do anything, as they are considered "non people".
    The " handouts" you speak of do only one thing, they make the Europeans feel better about themselves.

  47. urban deadite

    Of course all the Native American peoples always lived in harmony with each other and never went to war or conquered each other or raided for slaves and loot, the Aztecs another native American people were hated by all the other tribes that's how the Spanish conquered them, working WITH one tribe to conquer another be in North or South America, swings and roundabouts, who do you think acted as scouts when the Brit's and others started grabbing land?. History not so one sided as some people make out.
    It is NOT right what happened to these people but even in my country of England huge areas of the North are still depopulated from an event that happened by Foreign Invaders (Normans) around 900 Years ago.

  48. Me

    You missed the point, this film is about what is happening to these people NOW. The difference with England, is that all of the invaders became English in the end. A better comparison would have been the Picts, Scots, Irish, Welsh, Britons or Cornish... you are right England has a long history of genocide.

  49. Roi Truax

    a.k.a. urban dumbass

  50. Mark F.

    Did you find a way to make the connection?

  51. Alan

    This is one of the most informative documentaries available relating to Native Canadians and their mistreatment throughout history dating back to the arrival of Europeans. I am struck by the excuses presented by some of the viewers who claim that the Algonquin had a history of conflicts with other nations prior to the European arrival. All civilizations (the first nations being one) have had to deal with conflict, but the Indians of North America were ill prepared for the blatant deception and manipulation that the white people would impose upon their people and their way of life. It was ruthless and shameful.

    Alan S. of French, English and native blood.

  52. noela

    they were not conquered. europe simply occupied the land they thought was empty. unless you really evolved from animals, you really should walk your talk as humans. indigenous peoples have rights to be respected.

  53. tuneman1259

    It's so good to see that colonialism is alive and well in Europeans today. And to all of you that think we are a conquered people....I think you had better go back to school. And to you Mr. Westphal, all I can say is the crap your brain spews out is typical of what many Canadians believe, even within their own government. The current leadership is a good example of that. They were racists and anti-native before they changed the name of their party in order to distance themselves from their past. Only trouble is regardless of how easy it might be to call a leopard a different name, you can not change its spots. They will always be the same. And for those of you wishing I would just get to the point, conquered or not, did you forget this was the 21st century and there are laws against trying to do away with an entire race of people just because of the color of the skin, the way they live or speak or even just because they fight to keep the land that past generations have fought to keep what was given them by the creator without being tried as a terrorist just because Canada changes the laws to fight against us? If you are Canadian, you should be ashamed of what your government has and continues to do to the first people's of this country! If you are a part of the system, don't forget what goes around comes around. Remember what happened to the Nazi's when they got caught.

Leave a comment / review: