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The Pass System illuminates Canada’s hidden history of racial segregation. For over 60 years, the Canadian government denied many Indigenous peoples the basic freedom to leave their reserves without a pass. Nehiyaw, Saulteaux, Dene, Ojibwe and Niitsitapi elders tell their stories of living under and resisting the system, and link their experiences to today. Renowned artists and scholars give context to the on-going legacy of the system. Acclaimed actor and activist Tantoo Cardinal (Stumptown, Dances with Wolves, Legends of the Fall), narrates this investigative look into a little-known Canada, with music by award-winning composer Cris Derksen.

Written, Produced & Directed by Alex Williams

Executive Producer James Cullingham

Narration Tantoo Cardinal

Music Composed and Performed by Cris Derksen

Cinematography Alex Williams

Editor Igal Hecht

The Pass System is an independent production by Alex Williams made with assistance from the Canada Council for the Arts, the Ontario Arts Council and the Toronto Arts Council, with many community supporters, produced in association with Tamarack Productions and distributed in Canada by VTape.



vtape_logo  416-351-1317


Dark history of Canada’s First Nations Pass System Uncovered in Documentary  CBC NEWS

Conflict, Coercion, and Settler Colonialism in Western Canada  CANADIAN DIMENSION

‘The Pass System’ explores dark chapter in Canadian history  TORONTO STAR

The Pass System: illegal confinement of “rebel Indians”  APTN INFOCUS

First Nation reserves prior to 1960s were ‘open-air prisons’  REGINA LEADER-POST

Canada’s Secret History of Segregation  NOW

See full list of media here

© 2016 Alex Williams | Design: The L. Project (