Member Since: 1996
Where will you be on National Indigenous Peoples Day (NIPD) this year?
This year for Indigenous Peoples Day I will still be here in Winnipeg. I am currently working on the CRAVE/APTN TV series Little Bird. I am excited to have so many friends writing, directing, acting and being Producers on this set, it will be a perfect day to celebrate Indigenous love here in Manitoba. It is like the heart of Indian Country. You walk around and don’t feel like the fringe minority in these parts. You hold your head up a little bit higher than other places in Canada.
Is there an oral tradition, elder or anything you would like to share about what keeps you grounded to your culture while working in movies today?
There are many Elders I look to to find grounding while working. Something that has become a part of our sets now (Indigenous led productions) is there is a space set aside for smudging and cultural practice. On the set of Bones Of Crows we had a welcome ceremony every time our location entered a new territory in BC. We had local Elders welcome our cast and crew into the traditional territory. When we found ourselves in intense scenes that normally we would just go back to our trailers and cry for awhile alone, we can now go into the back of a camera truck and have an Elder smudge us and help bring us back into our bodies. Working in Indigenous story telling for so many years I understand that the material we work wit is medicine. As Artists we need to be aware of the power of the stories and how to channel the medicine in a way that brings healing to the audience. Sometimes that flow can get stuck in our bodies when in character. Sometimes we need to have a safe place to be after a scene and just release the collective trauma, or to give thanks for the ability to tell the story. It’s a different world now since Covid and open of the differences I see the most is there are many more stories being told with a lot of colour in the way it’s expressed. I am grateful to have watched this progression happen over the years and I am grateful for our Elders such as Tantoo Cardinal and Gary Farmer and that whole gang that courageously kicked open those first doors and ushered in our stories. Now I see these young artists coming up and I know they are going to have an easier time creating. It’s been quite the journey so far.
What has been your favorite role?
There a a few characters I have loved and missed after walking away at the end of a project . Gail Stony from a Blackstone was a definite favourite character, as well as my character on Jimmy P, an American film where I played Benicio del Toro’s sister. I can’ recall the name of the character but I remember having a cry in my trailer as I let her go.
What do you do when you are not performing?
I have a day job as the the Artistic Director of a theatre company in Mohkinstsisis called Making Treaty 7. We began this company in 2012 and it is very dear to my heart. I love theatre! I love the immediacy of it. You can get a play up in under year of planning. That includes funding, actors in place, venue. Even the audience response is immediate. I love directing stage and film!
What organization / activity are you involved with or passionate about that people would find interesting?
Making Treaty 7 is an “Indigenous led Settler supported” theatre company here in . We began in 2012, with our first staged production in 2013. I am now the AD of this company and we have a big beautiful season coming up! For more information check out our website makingtreaty7.com
What Director would you like to work with?
I feel very fortunate to have worked with some amazing directors in my life. Someone that I would love to work with or even just meet is Danis Goulet. She wrote and directed an powerful film called “Night Raiders” that took over last year as one of the best and most essential films of our country. Watching it on a plane ride one night left me shaken for a few days. It was that kind of film for me.
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