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Rhymes for Young


stars Glen

Gould, Kawennáhere

Devery Jacobs,

and Brandon Oakes.

We, newcomers and Indigenous people,

have had a long relationship together. It has

spanned fromour “just shacking up” stage

to making it a formal marriage through

treaties and later, confederation. The mar-

riage has not always been great. There have

been more than a few nights when we’ve

cried ourselves to sleep.

What I know for sure about thismarriage,

however, is that it is worth saving. I don’t

think we can consider divorce: we have to

stay in it for the kids. So in this year of cele-

bration, I hope all Canadians contemplate

how we can make this marriage stronger

and more fulfilling for both parties.

With that spirit in mind, I was thrilled

when ACTRA National asked me to take a

look at the newguard of Indigenous players

in this country. In doing that, it is import-

ant to look at where we have been, where we

are now and what we might look forward

to in the future.

Like most Indigenous people, I have a

misty memory of watching cowboy and

Indian movies as a child with a feeling of

confusion and wonder. Although I knew

those “Indians” were in some way meant

to represent me, there wasn’t much about

them that was familiar. Mi’kmaq people

never rode horses, nor have very many

Canadian Indigenous nations for that mat-

ter. We weren’t mean and aggressive people;

in fact, we laughed and joked a lot...mostly

at ourselves.

Andmost confusing for my youngmind

was the way those movie Indians looked.

Neither their skin tone nor their facial fea-

tures seemed familiar. As I grew up, I came

to realize the confusion stemmed from the

fact that those actors were not actually

Indigenous, but instead actors of other races

badly depicting us.

I wish I could report those days are long

behind us, but to do so would be to ignore

Photo: Jan Thijs.