“Spill The Tea with Ms. Rabbit”, at River Radio
Picking up from my first column on the CBC’s latest show Trickster, I interviewed Georgina Lightning….
A champion for the Indigenous underdog, Lighting loans her voice to communities that are traditionally overlooked in mainstream society. This empathy and compassion developed through her own personal adversity and struggles. Through her career as an indigenous woman in the film, industry Georgina Lightning reveals “I’m a woman for the underdog. I’ve always been one. I align with that energy.” Traditionally, an underdog is often the people who are seen as likely to lose. As indigenous women in Canada, we face so many barriers and are often seen as such an underdog.
It takes strength and honesty to turn an unhealthy situation into motivation to change your life’s path into a powerful career. As Georgina states, “Sometimes you got to go through chaos to get to the other side”. As a survivor of domestic violence, she would often show up to her class with black eyes. One day an instructor took her to a women’s shelter for battered women, an experience that changed her life. There is often shame around domestic violence and this was no different for Lightning. She said that she “felt shame and humiliation” but found a support group of women who “changed her life and that was the beginning of the end”. Lightning made a promise to herself that her children “would never see anything like this again. I’m moving out of here”. She packed up and moved her family to Los Angeles and created a successful career in the film industry. As she states, “It took a lot of steps that I was never, ever going to be abused again, like not ever. I’m never going to experience violence ever again. You know no one is walking in my house and lay their hands on me again.” Now, Lightning is going through her own personal transformations. She shared that throughout her career successes, people often didn’t see her as a person. They wanted things from her, but now she is in a good place in her life and is shedding all the dead weight. She is filling her life with people and energy that is conductive to her growth.
When chatting about her career in the film industry. Georgina reveals that the “Me Too Movement” and “George Floyd Murder” shook not only the social landscape of the world but the entire film industry as well. These two movements combined, have changed policies for filmmakers. She shared that, “Some of those changes include gender equality of 50% men and 50% women, the decision-makers, so the writers, directors, and producers. Every project needs to be 50/50”. In the last year, Indigenous-women-led-film projects have been getting more approvals. She states, “Seven indigenous people got deals last year with major film companies in one year. That has never happened in the history of my life”. These moments in our history have opened new conversations for indigenous peoples. We are now in a unique position where society is finally listening to Indigenous thought processes, is curious about indigenous lives, and is empathetic to the lived experiences of Indigenous lives.
Georgina Lightning’s latest project is called “Trickster”, which made its debut last week on CBC. This was a monumental moment that indigenized primetime television, something that is traditionally reserved for white culture. It has taken over a spot where Indigenous people are often seen in a supporting role, rather than the lead, and space where we as indigenous people are portrayed as “otherness”. Georgina says “Trickster” is “produced by Sienna Pictures, two women who got behind a female director, that picked up a book from a female author. So, all female leads”. She is referring to director and co-executive director Michelle Latimer, co-executive director Tony Elliott, ‘Son of a Trickster’ author Eden Robinson, and actors Crystle Lightning and Anna Lambe.
“I’m a part of that, were all a part of that amazing first time in the history of Canada that there’s been an indigenous project on mainstream Canada… It’s monumental. This has never happened in the history of filming”. – Georgina Lightning. The “Trickster is going to very educational to mainstream Canada.
Thank you all for taking the time to read my thoughts on Ms. Lightning. I got to know her this past year though my social activism work. This past year Georgina participated in a number of social causes that I spearheaded in Edmonton, Alberta. From my perspective, everything she does is for the betterment of indigenous people and this is something that I can relate too. What I can see in work is that its geared towards educating non- indigenous people about indigenous lived experiences and provided a glimpse into indigenous society. Through media, she has been able to challenge the dominant cultural narrative of indigenous people. Where instead of being seen as supporting roles or merely extras in a film. She creates films and Television shows like APTN “Blackstone” that gives respect, dignity and supports indigenous thought frameworks. Gone are the days of the stereotypical first nation is a buckskin. We are finally being seen as people, indigenous characters that are now more complex, humanistic, relatable, friendly, and can perform in leading roles. This is an exciting time to be an Indigenous Canadian.
Stay tuned for my news two columns other actors of “Trickster” such as Joel Oulette and Griffin Powell – Arcand.
Chevi Rabbitt – Human Rights Advocate & Columnist