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The Indigenous-culture ambassador

Sonia Bonspille Boileau, BFA 06
November 6, 2023
By Richard Burnett, BA 88

A woman with a dark bob haircut and long beaded earrings is wearing a black collared shirt.

Acclaimed Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema graduate Sonia Bonspille Boileau has become an inspirational figure for her active role in sharing Indigenous perspectives with the world.

The bilingual Kanien’kehá:ka (Mohawk) filmmaker has been a content creator at the prize-winning, Indigenous-owned production house Nish Media, based in Gatineau, Quebec, since 2007. She directed her first feature, Le Dep, in 2015. And in 2022, her landmark six-part television series Pour toi Flora premiered on Radio-Canada — the first Indigenous-written, directed and produced drama series in the network’s history. 

In 2017, Bonspille Boileau won the prestigious Women in the Director’s Chair Feature Film Award. And in 2022, her mini-series Pour toi Flora won the prize for best miniseries at the C21 International Drama Awards, in London, England.

Proudest moment

“First and foremost, definitely getting into Concordia because the film production program is actually hard to get into and I was fortunate enough to have a lot of people in my home community of Kanesatake actually work together on helping me build my portfolio. That was pretty amazing.”

Significant career milestone

“My first feature Le Dep was financed through a Telefilm Canada program called 'Micro-Budget.' That’s how small it was. There weren’t any expectations. When we submitted our film to festivals, we were pre-selected for Cannes, the biggest film festival in the world. In the end, no Canadian film made the festival that year, but the experience validated and solidified my career choice.”

Career challenge

“Getting stories from an indigenous perspective not just funded but seen by the general audience.”

Influential professor

“My scriptwriting teacher Roy Cross gave me two pieces of advice that I can still hear him say every time I sit down: ‘Write what you know and keep it simple.’”

Passion project

“A bunch of people from Kanesatake and I decided to restart our local radio station CKHQ-FM as a tool to share culture, history and language because there are not many speakers of our language left, so we need to record our speakers and share the language on the air.”

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