Indigenous Initiatives

From the beginning of cinema, the stories of Indigenous peoples have often been told by non-Indigenous filmmakers. As a step toward more accurate representation, one of Telefilm Canada’s key priorities is to support Indigenous creators in bringing their bold visions to the screen. Telefilm is proud to play a role in amplifying the voices of Indigenous creators who are driven to tell their unique stories. As a result of this investment, Indigenous talent have become the driving force behind some of Telefilm’s most successful films, garnering acclaim and recognition at national and international film festivals, as well as receiving worldwide distribution.

Telefilm’s approach to better supporting Indigenous voices arose from dialogue with Indigenous creators from across the country.  Our continued commitment to Indigenous filmmakers is reflected in our five-point action plan:

  1. Indigenous Stream: Telefilm created an Indigenous Stream in 2017, increasing the feature film production and development financing made available for creators from Canada’s Indigenous communities to $4 million annually.  If Indigenous creators choose to submit their work to the regular production and development streams, this investment is counted beyond the $4 million.
  2. Indigenous Jury: Projects identified as Indigenous, and that want to compete in this stream, will be assessed by a jury comprised of Indigenous film professionals.
  3. Engage with Indigenous peoples:  Telefilm actively consults with Indigenous creators through the Indigenous Working Group which is comprised of creators from Indigenous communities across Canada. Additionally, Telefilm created a position dedicated to overseeing the Indigenous Stream, and supporting Indigenous creators – i.e. Lead, Indigenous Initiatives.  This position is based out of our Toronto office.
  4. Supporting the Conversation and Increasing Visibility of Talent:
    • Conversation: Telefilm continues to support critical research and activities that address the gaps and challenges of Indigenous creators (e.g. Pathways and Protocols).
    • Visibility and Talent Showcasing:  Telefilm continues to support festivals and initiatives across the country that showcase and support Indigenous talent. In addition, our Communications’ team ensures that Indigenous voices are included in marketing and PR efforts whenever possible.
  5. Indigenous Screen Office: Telefilm is a supporter of this office and will continue to back this important enterprise via financing and administrative support.


Indigenous funding streams:

Indigenous production

This funding stream supports the production of Indigenous projects with budgets above $250,000. Films with budgets between $250,000 and $2.5M are generally available for a maximum of $500,000 or 49% of a project’s budget. Whichever number is lower.

Applicant companies applying for funding under this Stream will have to show that:

  • At least 51% of the project’s copyright is held by a production company whose majority shareholder is Indigenous
  • Two of the three key members of the creative team (producer, director or screenwriter) are Indigenous

For full guidelines and additional information, please read the Indigenous stream FAQs, as well as the most recent version of Telefilm’s production guidelines and the essential information guide here.

Indigenous Development

This financing stream supports the development of scripts from Indigenous writers and producers. Applicants must be incorporated Indigenous companies with some experience. For more information, please read the Indigenous Stream FAQs and read the guidelines here.

Talent to Watch: Indigenous Stream

The Talent to Watch program helps first-time feature filmmakers finance their microbudget project (max budget $250,000.)  

Eligibility for the Indigenous stream of Talent to Watch:

  • All three key members of the project’s creative team (producer, writer and director) must be Indigenous people.
  • Key members of the creative teams of all submitted projects must be emerging talent: they must have previously produced, directed and/or written at least one short film, but cannot have previously held the same key position in a feature length film.
  • Recommendation from a partner organization: financing is given to projects chosen among those recommended by designated industry partners for each component of the Program.

For more information, please read the guidelines here.

Application process

    • Applicants submit proposals to their designated partner.
    • Designated partners must submit their recommendation to Telefilm through Dialogue by the deadline specified on Telefilm’s website.
    • With the assistance of an industry jury, Telefilm reviews the recommended projects submitted by designated partners.

Jury process

  • For the Indigenous Streams in Development, Production, and Talent to Watch, projects are evaluated by a jury of Indigenous filmmakers and Indigenous Telefilm staff. There is one jury in English and another for French.

Community Engagement Plans, Remote Region Allocation, Capacity Building Allocation (Production program only)

  • The Community Engagement document is an opportunity for the filmmaking team to demonstrate a plan for how they will responsibly engage with any under-represented communities that will be impacted by the project
  • Applicants planning on shooting in remote locations may submit a detailed rationale (max. two pages) for why the project requires additional funding. Additional costs incurred due to the remoteness should be clearly identified.
  • Applicants may apply for funds for initiatives that build capacity. Proposals must outline the details of the capacity-building initiative, including:
    • Goals, intent, and measurable outcomes. (one-page max)
    • Additional costs incurred for the capacity-building initiative.
    • Detailed plan and schedule of the capacity-building initiative.

Latest updates

Indigenous Initatives Resource Guide

The Indigenous Initatives Resource Guide is now available.

Contact person

If you are applying to the Indigenous stream for the first time, or have questions about the Indigenous jury process, please contact

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