Continuing from my second column on CBC’s latest show Trickster, I interviewed Canada’s newest Star Joel Oulette….
Oulette takes center stage on Canadian Primetime television. In His Breakout Role On CBC show “Trickster”, That’s Redefining Canadian Television. A spot not often reserved for Indigenous actors in a leading role. The great news is that you won’t be seeing this indigenous actor in buckskin or playing an extra. No, his character will have depth, take center stage on Canadian Primetime; move beyond stereotypes, and in doing so change the narrative for Canadas Booming Indigenous Generation_Z.
In the second column, Georgina Lightning states, “this is the first time in the history of Canada that there’s been an indigenous project on mainstream Canada… It’s monumental.”. Personally, it didn’t occur to me that Indigenous Canadians have never been allowed to shine in this way. So, this show is truly redefining! Indigenous communities have often been left to play supporting roles in the non-indigenous frameworks. I guess as radicalized peoples one expects to be nothing more than an extra in Canada’s dominates society.
A refreshing and long overdue show, CBC “Trickster” is in the process of redefining what it means to be indigenous in mainstream television. And it’s about time. Joel plays the lead role as Jared, an indigenous teen struggling through his families’ dysfunctional life, who meets a mysterious stranger, who turns his whole world upside down and infuses indigenous supernatural folklore. Check out a quick preview provided by DailyHive: CBC Trickster: Recap with Joel Oulette. Cities like Edmonton, Vancouver, and Winnipeg have the youngest and fastest-growing indigenous populations.
Canadas Indigenous need role models and they need to see themselves as people that are more than just an extra on set. They also need indigenous stars that have a strong understanding of their indigenous history within Canada. Indigenous Gen Z, not only challenge outdated stereotypes but are hyper-aware of terms like “Indigenization” and “Decolonization”. A path paved by my generation in the last decade and the generation before us. This generation is proud of their heritage as Canadas First Peoples.
Joel shares a bit about his family’s rich history, he says, “My great grandfather Jose Ouellette, fought in the Battle of Batoche at 93 years of age, he was killed, and his last word was JUSTICE. My Great Cree Grandmother spoke and wrote fluent Cree.”
Joel is your typical Indigenous Generation Z and his generation is leading the way in relearning Indigenous languages. Repatriating themselves in their Indigenous Culture(s).
There are more than 630 First Nation communities in Canada, which represent more than 50 Nations and 50 Indigenous languages. Differences in Indigenous Cultures are no more apparent than the “Trickster” legend himself. The show is based on Eden Robinson’s “Son of a Trickster” that is based on the “Trickster” Raven which is a culture hero of the Haisla and other Northwest Coast tribes. These Indigenous cultural differences are highlighted in our interview.
Joel explains that his Grandfather told him about his family version of “Trickster”. Joel says, “My Grandfather told us about the Cree legend it is the coyote, Weesageechak Trickster in Haisla is Unite or Fight, good or bad, and in Cree, the coyote is a prankster, a jokester and is humorous, just like medicine in Cree is Humour, to laugh something off, not be so serious, and to share storytelling around the kitchen table, with funny stories is like the coyote.” This week look out for my article on the Plains Cree version of “Trickster” aka “Shapeshifter”.
As a Metis Cree Canadian Joel highlights the importance of knowing your Language and Culture, he says, “ It begins now, they say if you lose the language, you lose the culture, time to embrace the culture and even for myself to dance again.” And that it’s time to “ relearn the language, and the culture, I used to jig with my moms performing company”. For those that are unaware of the “Jig”, please just click here for more information Red River Jig.
It’s clear that he is very proud of his Metis and Cree heritage. He says, “Being indigenous means so much to me. It shows more of who you are, wisdom to live by, and admiration and respect for the land we live on. A topic that everyone needs to pay more attention to. I’m still on my own journey of learning more about my indigenous culture and the ways they lived.”
Oulette Family is Breaking intergenerational Trauma through Acting.
Joel Oulette has a supportive family and friends. Laurie Oulette, Joel’s mother is his biggest fan and supporter. The Oulette is just like all indigenous families that have been impacted by racism, self-hate, and shame caused by Canadas Notorious Residential Schools.
He courageously shares a story about his Great Grandmother, he says,” My great Grandmother, she was affected by colonization, assimilation, and survival, I never met her, but heard from my Grandfather about my Cree Great Grandmother, she would tell my grandpa and her kids, do not say your native, you won’t get a job.
What mainstream Canada fails to understand is that many Indigenous families are trying to break a cycle of trauma inflicted by Canadian policies such as Residential Schools, the Indian Act, and 60 Scoop.
Joel says that “Today, I am proud to be indigenous, both Cree and Metis.”
Ouellet family is breaking intergenerational trauma through the arts and theatre. The family created a successful acting company called “Sunworks Arts and Cultural Society”, located in Southern Alberta. Laurie is the founder and creative director of Sun Works. Through her company, she has been encouraging Joel to be an actor since she was very young. The family company offers programs within the performing arts as well as professional and personal development.
The website says, “Sunworks was founded in May of 1991 by Laurie Oulette, a Metis woman originally from Flin Flon, Manitoba. Laurie attended Simon Fraser University in B.C where she minored in dance and choreography and majored in aboriginal social work at the University of Calgary. She has been involved with the performing arts industry for 30 years.” If your curious about Sunworks here is the website: https://sunworks.wixsite.com/sunworks
Joel goes on to say more about his family and acting experiences, ” My mom then would help me get roles, first as extras, then small roles, then bigger speaking roles. I also took summer indigenous film camps, that helped me learn behind the scenes of a production and how to work in front of the camera.
and that ” I would attend the camps with my cousins, best friend, and brother, we all learned how to write, pitch an idea and then act, plus sound, grip, direct, it was extremely helpful to learn how to make a film and be in a film.
When he is not acting Joel says that he. ” presently works with a small group of youth in Medicine Hat and we create music and dance videos and skits, to send powerful messages, it’s part of the Sunworks program“. It’s clear that breaking intergenerational trauma is working for the Oulette family. Joel is a great example of what can be done when you have a supportive indigenous family cheering you on.
Finally, this Indigenous star has advice for Indigenous youth. He states that, ” My advice for the youth is to realize they can do acting too. Start from extra roles and build yourself up. Do not let fear hold you back, when you put yourself out of your comfort zone you tend to grow as a person and gain confidence.”
And that, ” My go-to was spiderman, now if there was a native spiderman how many indigenous kids do you think would have had a role model to look up to. Decolonizing mainstream media is the objective, trickster is a perfect example of doing that.”
Personally, I get this young man. My upbringing was very similar in terms of the love and support that I received. My superhero was also Spiderman. I also had a very supportive mother and family. So, I can relate to many aspects of this new Canadians Star.
In order for Indigenous communities to break the cycle of intergenerational trauma. It starts at the home and uplighting our “home fires” and empowering Indigenous mothers. Residential schools robbed many Indigenous mothers and fathers of proper parenting skills and life skills.
It’s important that Canada give space for Indigenous families and empower them so that their kids can live their best lives just like this young man. There is so much potential in Indigenous communities just waiting for the opportunity to shine.
I hope you enjoyed my article. Stay tuned for my interview with “Trickster” Actor Griffin Powel –Arcand. For his interview, it will be a Q & A style.
Watch every Wednesday At 9PM On CBC & CBC Gem. Supernatural Thriller With A Coming Of Age Story. Trickster On CBC Is Based On Eden Robinson’s Best-Selling Novel Son Of A Trickster. Thriller. Supernatural. New Drama Series. Indigenous Culture.
Described as a “darkly humorous coming-of-age story,” The Trickster is a supernatural thriller that follows an Indigenous teen named Jared who struggles to keep his family afloat when a stranger named Wade ruptures the balance. “What begins as an unnerving slow burn of strange events in Jared’s already-messy life crescendos to an epic clash of magic, monsters and mayhem,” said the CBC in a press release.
For more on the show click here: https://www.cbc.ca/trickster/
Chevi Rabbitt – Human Rights Advocate, Edmonton top 40 under 40 & Columnist.