The Road Forward—A Film Receiving Rave Reviews for Its Honesty and Compelling History

The Road Forward is a powerful musical documentary by creator and filmmaker Marie Clements about the Native Brotherhood of BC and their struggles and tribulations to get their voice heard. The film has received rave reviews after sold-out screenings at Vancouver’s York Theatre.

The Road Forward

The Road Forward


 

The Native Brotherhood of the BC formed in the 1930s when it was illegal for native people to meet in a gathering or group. The Native Brotherhood and Sisterhood of BC were powerful organizations working towards the same cause. They brought the First Nations together as one.

This Aboriginal Blues and Rock-n-Roll film takes viewers on the journey of the struggles and determination of the characters as they fight for their Native Rights being oppressed by the government. Filmmaker Marie Clements said in the North Shore News she thought it was important to celebrate the investment needed to create change and the ensuing victories because Aboriginal people need to celebrate these as they don’t often read about Indigenous victories and celebrations.

“We don’t often hear about it, and also I think it’s important to look at issues that we’re still dealing with in a truthful way, a contemporary way,” said Marie Clements.

Clements first thought of the idea to create the film when she came across an issue of the The Native Voice – a newspaper that began publishing in the 1940s and became the official voice of the Native Brotherhood of BC. The newspaper served as the platform for the Native Brotherhood to promote their issues and voice their concerns from a native perspective.

The film educates viewers on heroes many are unfamiliar with, and offers a compelling insight and wonderful narration about events that have affected Aboriginal people. These include the Right to hunt, discrimination, the protection of Aboriginal language and culture, residential schools, the Constitution Express, the White Paper, and missing and murdered Aboriginal women.

Behind the scenes – Indian Man
Photo: © Rosamond Norbury


 

In the scene where Cheri Maracle leaves home to find work, she faces the brutal reality of the 1940s for an Aboriginal woman. She experiences racism, job refusal because of her skin colour and is unable to even check into a hotel until an unexpected stroke of kindness and opportunity. The Road Forward honours those who came before and created positive change while recognizing issues like the Murdered Indigenous Woman that still need to be resolved.

The cast includes actors, singers and narrations by Michelle St John, Russell Wallace, Cheri Maracle, Thomas Berger, Evan Adams, Leonard George, Doreen Manual, and more.

Clements has created a powerful film that must be seen to understand struggles, victories, and legacies Aboriginal people faced in the past and still confront today. Find more information on The Road Forward at WideAwake.nfb.ca

Upcoming Screenings:

  • Saturday, September 30, 5pm. The Civic Theatre 719 Vernon Street Nelson BC
  • Monday, October 16, 5pm. AGH BMO World Film Festival, Hamilton ON
  • Theatrical Release at Winnipeg Cinematheque on Saturday, October 21, 3pm; Friday, October 27, 7pm; Saturday, October 28, 7pm; and Sunday, October 29, 3pm.
  • Sunday, October 22, imagineNATIVE Closing Gala, Toronto ON
  • Tuesday, November 21, Port Hardy Civic Centre, 7440 Columbia Street, Port Hardy BC
  • Wednesday, November 22, Gate House Theatre, 11-1705 Campbell Way, Port McNeill, BC
  • Wednesday, November 22, Bata Shoe Museum, Toronto, ON
  • Friday, November 29, Art Gallery of Alberta, 2 Sir Winston Churchill Square Edmonton, AB
  • Friday, January 19, 2018, 7:30pm, Eden Mills & District Community Club, 104 York Street, Eden Mills, ON

First Lady Hoop Dancing Championships

This past August 26th, the Intermountain All-Women Hoop Dancing Championships were held and the event was a huge success. The first competition of its kind, ever, included 42 dancers from the United States and Canada. The one-day event consisted of two rounds to determine the ladies hoop dancing champion.

(Right to left) Violet John Kehewin of the First Nation and Sandra Yellow Horn of the Piegan Nation

(Right to left) Violet John Kehewin of the First Nation and Sandra Yellow Horn of the Piegan Nation


 

Sandra Yellow Horn of the Peigan Nation won first place at the inaugural competition, while Violet John of the Kehewin First Nation took the runner-up trophy. The event was held at “This is The Place Heritage Park” in Salt Lake City, Utah,

I had a chance to ask Violet John, former Miss Indian World 2006, about the competition and her thoughts on hoop dancing. John said she was happy to see this competition take place because it will draw attention to women in hoop dancing.

Violet John prepares her daughter for competition

Violet John prepares her daughter for competition

“It’s very rare to see female hoop dancers and to have this first ladies hoop dancing competition is so good for the women and young girls to get involved in this beautiful dance,” said Violet. “Three of my daughters are hoop dancers and this event will only encourage them and other young girls to start dancing in the future. It was so nice to travel to Salt Lake City and compete here.”

Hoop dancing has a long-standing tradition. This unique dance can involve the use of more than 50 hoops. Hoop dancing communicates individual and tribal stories using hoops to create symbols and depict animals or other life found in nature. The continuous circle of the hoops symbolizes the circle of life and change of seasons.

It is not clear which tribe founded traditional hoop dancing because many tribes have a history of the practice in various ceremonies. Traditional hoops were made from wood of a willow tree, whereas modern-day hoops are made from reed and plastic because of the durability of the material when travelling.

The hoops are then decorated with tape and paint to symbolize the changing colours of each season. Traditional hoops are still used on rare occasions. Native hoop dancing is traditionally a male-only dance, but over the past few decades women have picked up the dance. In 1994, Jackie Bird from South Dakota became the first woman to compete in the World Championship Hoop Dance Contest.

Future Hoop Dancing Champion

Future Hoop Dancing Champion


 

Saanii Atsitty, the Intermountain All-Women Hoop Dancing Championships organizer says judges are looking at precision, timing, rhythm, craftsmanship, creativity and originality. For the ladies’ competition judges also look at grace and elegance. The two rounds of competition for the ladies consisted of 5 minutes and 7 minutes in the final round dancing to Northern Drum, White Bull, and Southern Drum, Southern Soul Singers.

“I think the first go-round went well and created great interest and excitement,” said Atsitty, organizer of the hoop dancing competition. “We are glad to create a space and platform for these beautiful women and girls to showcase their dancing. We are looking forward to the 2nd Annual next year.”

Maori All Blacks to Invade BC Place Stadium, Play Against Host Team Canada


 

The Maori All Blacks is one of the most successful sporting team in any sport. The New Zealander rugby team has a winning percentage higher than the likes of Manchester United and Golden State Warriors.

On August 10, Rugby Canada and the New Zealand Rugby Union announced they will host the second ever Senior Men’s Fifteen match at BC Place with Canada taking on the world-famous Maori All Blacks.

Presented by AIG, as both teams prepare for their respective November Internationals in Europe, the All Blacks will play the Canadian men’s rugby team at Vancouver’s BC Place Stadium on November 3.

In the past four years, ten of the Maori All Black players progressed to play for the New Zealand national team – winners of the last two Rugby World Cups – while 18 have “bounced” between the two teams at various times. Twenty countries compete in the Rugby World Cup tournament, which is one of the world’s biggest sporting event outside of North America.

The All Blacks have been a YouTube sensation with their “Haka” traditional war dance – a fierce display of a tribe’s pride, strength and unity. Before every game, the All Blacks perform the traditional Maori war dance the New Zealand natives used before going into battle. The dance is also used as a form of respect when groups come together in peace.

The All Blacks have defeated teams with players from different nations – international opponents – including the British & Irish Lions, a team with players from England and Ireland.

Look forward to our next issue when we speak to representatives of both the All Blacks and the Canadian Men’s Rugby teams.


 

Walk for Reconciliation 2017


 

A Historic Moment
This is a historic moment for all of us. 2017 is a year of significant reflection as we recognize 150 years since Canadian confederation. 2017 comes amidst a period of heightened social awareness and momentum around reconciliation, including the release of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action in 2015, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and our recently released National Narrative on Reconciliation Report. Now is a critical time to embrace reconciliation.

“Canada 150” alludes to two vastly different narratives and holds different meanings to the people in Canada. As we know, Canada’s history stretches much longer than the 150 years since Canadian confederation and as we stand here in this time and place, we reflect that there is a broken relationship amongst us that needs nurturing. From the creation of the Indian Act and the legacy of the residential school system felt by generations of Indigenous communities, there is a deep wound within our people that needs to be addressed. That is why we are all here—to continue initiating conversation with all of the people in our country to bring reconciliation to the forefront. If we can all reconcile ourselves as human beings, we hold the hope that the next 150 years will be brighter.

Over the past few years, Reconciliation Canada has engaged with Canadians across the Nation to bring reconciliation to the forefront from coast to coast to coast. We have held National Reconciliation Gatherings in Vancouver, Membertou, Winnipeg, Saskatoon, Whitehorse and Montreal. With each initiative, we hope to expand perspectives and understandings of reconciliation and provide a space that allows for individual transformation and renewed relationships.

On September 22nd 2013, Reconciliation Canada hosted the first Walk for Reconciliation in Vancouver and 70,000 people braved the pouring rain to walk in support for reconciliation. We heard from many of the survivors that attended the walk that they were brought to tears by the immense support that their communities displayed. Additionally, in 2015 Reconciliation Canada, in partnership with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, held the second Walk for Reconciliation in Ottawa.

Earlier this year, Reconciliation Canada conducted the National Narrative Report on Reconciliation. The results of this national report revealed that Indigenous peoples and non-Indigenous Canadians are in agreement on a number of aspects about reconciliation, notably the value of acknowledging the contribution that Indigenous peoples make to Canadian society, the need to provide greater opportunity and equality for Indigenous people, as well as the need for reconciliation. Following this report, we hosted the National Thought Table which gathered Thought Leaders from across the nation to share their perspectives on a range of issues regarding reconciliation. We also hosted “In the Sprit of Reconciliation: An Intergenerational Gathering”, where spiritual leaders, elders and youth gathered to reflect on the spiritual aspect of reconciliation. All of our engagement this year has been leading up to our signature Canada 150+ event—The Walk for Reconciliation.


 

Walk for Reconciliation 2017
This September 24th, we will once again gather together in the streets of downtown Vancouver to walk for reconciliation and highlight the intergenerational impacts of Indian Residential Schools, as well as honor survivors and intergenerational survivors. The Walk for Reconciliation is designed to raise awareness and help every participant see how reconciliation is relevant to them. The event highlights the unique history and cultures of the city and it is an event for people of all ages, backgrounds, cultures and faiths. The act of walking and sharing our stories can join us all in a shared commitment to creating a new way forward in our relationships.

This year, we hope to match our previous participation numbers and display our support for the reconciliation movement. We will begin our walk at Queen Elizabeth Theatre, walk across the viaducts, end in Strathcona Park. The route will be two kilometers long and is welcome to all.

The Walk for Reconciliation will culminate in Strathcona park where we will be hosting the first Reconciliation Expo! At the Expo, there will be community booths which will include information regarding reconciliation, experiential cultural activities, and a range of presentations from community groups, indigenous organizations, and multicultural groups. Additionally, there will be an area dedicated to local artisans, a place for children to play educational games, a space for Indigenous craft making, as well as a variety of Vancouver based food-trucks serving ethnically diverse foods. On the main stage there will be captivating performances including live singing, dancing and various displays of local artwork and most notably, there will be an address from a keynote speaker.

Walk with us
We urge Indigenous peoples across this country to attend the Walk for Reconciliation as a celebration of strength and resilience. By displaying openness, generosity and love, Indigenous peoples in Canada will continue to show leadership in the reconciliation movement. In return, we can be met with open hearts and minds when discussing past and present inequalities that we must work towards amending.

We extend our hand to you to join us for the Walk for Reconciliation in the spirit of ‘Namwayut—we are all one. On September 24th, we invite you to join us to walk for the missing, for those who have gone, for loved ones, for justice, and for healing. We will walk to remember the intergenerational lives taken, to honour survivors and to acknowledge those impacted by the Indian residential school system. Together, we will walk for reconciliation.

How we build relationships today affects our next generations. We can all take this monumental opportunity to embrace a space for openness and real dialogue to create a mutual vision for the future based on the values of justice and equality for all. In doing so, we recognize our common humanity and the shared hopes and aspirations we have for the place we live.


 

How to get involved
If you would like to further become involved with Reconciliation Canada and receive the most up to date information regarding the Walk and our other initiatives, we encourage you to sign up for our monthly newsletter. Additionally, you can follow this link to sign up as an individual or as a team member for the Walk, or go to www.reconciliationcanada.ca to sign up to volunteer or donate. Follow us on social media by searching @Rec_Can on twitter, @reconciliationcanada on Instagram, and Reconciliation Canada on Facebook. Feel free to tweet us and share your photos and comments with us as we would love to hear from you!

Aboriginal Centres Help Students Succeed

As the weeks draw closer to the first day of class at universities and colleges across the country, we look at services provided to Aboriginal students. I had the chance to connect with Sarah Noel, the communication officer/recruitment and communications for the University of Sudbury, and she shared information on the assistance provided by their institution.

University of Sudbury-Aboriginal Centre

University of Sudbury-Aboriginal Centre


 

“The are many services the University of Sudbury provides Aboriginal students offering cultural, academic and individual support. Such services include the department of Indigenous Studies; a lounge for Indigenous students; access to Traditional Resource People; and a student group called Indigenous Student Circle, to name a few,” Noel said.

Noel said as members of the Laurentian Federation, students can access services offered by the Indigenous Student Affairs office as well as the Indigenous Sharing and Learning Center located at Laurentian University. Programs and courses are also offered by the University of Sudbury directly onsite or via video-conferencing in the communities of the James Bay Coast, which include Moose Factory, Attawapiskat, Fort Albany and Kashechewan.

“The University of Sudbury is dedicated to making education financially accessible by providing numerous scholarships, bursaries and awards to their students. Among the financial aid available is bursaries, scholarships and awards specifically for Indigenous students,” said Noel.

The unveiling of the University of Sudbury’s arbor, Nishnaabe-gkendaaswin Teg (where Indigenous Knowledge is), will take place on Thursday, September 14, which is soon after classes resume. Noel said Nishnaabe-gkendaaswin Teg will be a place to sit with your ancestors, seek the wisdom of elders, receive teachings and explore your place within creation and share in peace, understanding and thoughtful contemplation. The arbor will be available for class time, workshops, ceremonies, teachings and other gatherings.

I asked Noel if she thought these kind of services for Aboriginal students helped them with their studies in terms of giving a sense of belonging, to inspiring them to achieve their program goals.

“Yes, these kinds of services definitely help in giving Indigenous students a sense of belonging. The University of Sudbury provides a safe, inclusive, supportive and nurturing academic environment that allows students to reach their goals,” said Noel.

Noel added she definitely feels Aboriginal Centres are a welcoming place that provides guidance and supports for student success on both a personal and academic level.

“Providing an atmosphere of identity, a place of belonging and being connected with one another eases the transition between home, community and school, and significantly enhances Indigenous culture and way-of-life,” said Noel.

As a former student of Grant MacEwan University in Edmonton, I would most definitely agree with Noel that Aboriginal Centres gives students a sense of belonging and encouragement. When I attended Grant MacEwan from 1999 to 2002, I completed the Native Communications Program, aka, NCP, and the Journalism Diploma Program.

Relying on the Aboriginal Centre as a place to go and study, chat with other students and counsellors and experience positive vibes, and sometimes gain inspiration, I remember on many occasions chatting with then Grant MacEwan University Aboriginal Centre counsellor Jane Woodward, who was a great person to speak with and always had encouraging words, making it easier to finish that next assignment.

I have spoken with many former students and they all agree post-secondary institutions need both Aboriginal Centres and their services. In our next issue we’ll look at new programs that are in development, like Alberta announcing a $665,000 grant to train Indigenous language teachers.

For more information visit www.usudbury.ca

Historic National Gathering of Elders to be held in Amiskwaci-waskahikan, the Traditional Gathering Place of Indigenous Peoples

Treaty 6 Territory August 11, 2017: The first ever National Gathering of Elders 2017 will be held September 11 – 14, 2017 in Edmonton, Alberta at the Edmonton Expo Centre.

The Gathering marks the first time in Canada’s history that elders and seniors from every region and Indigenous group will come together in the spirit of friendship and reconciliation. Building on the theme ‘Coming Home, Voices of Elders,’ the National Gathering of Elders will be a place for laughter and the sharing of culture, traditions, history, and an opportunity for the creation of long lasting connections.

First Nations, Metis and Inuit Elders from all across Canada, as well as youth and the general public are all invited to this historic event. Planned activities include opening and closing ceremonies featuring a parade of Nations, health and wellness sessions, Indigenous art exhibits, a tradeshow, and discussion forums on climate change, missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, revitalization of Indigenous languages and culture, and reconciliation. There will be an intercultural showcase, Indigenous entertainers, a talent show, cultural excursions and dance socials.

“Amiskwaci-waskahikan,” which in Cree translates into Beaver Hills House, was known as a Gathering Place for Indigenous Peoples from all across Turtle Island. Fort Edmonton was established near this Gathering Place in the late 1700’s. In time, Fort Edmonton grew to become Edmonton, the capital of Alberta. Located within the Treaty 6 Territory, Edmonton is still a Gathering Place for Indigenous Peoples, so it is fitting that the inaugural National Gathering of Elders will be held in Amiskwaci-waskahikan.

The 2017 National Gathering of Elders was the vision of Chief Rupert Meneen, Tallcree Tribal Government and Grand Chief of Treaty 8 First Nations (Alberta), and is the culmination of twelve months of planning, spearheaded by a National Gathering of Elders Advisory Council and a core group of organizers from Treaty 6 and Treaty 8 First Nations (Alberta), the Metis Nation of Alberta, Metis Settlements General Council. Inuit Edmonton and the Assembly of First Nations – Alberta.


 

Chanie Wenjack School for Indigenous Studies Enhances Indigenous Reconciliation at Trent University

Academic requirement for Indigenous course content and new lecture series featuring Indigenous leaders also among key recommendations approved by University Senate


 
Trent University announced a significant addition to its 48-year history instilling Indigenous reconciliation in the institution’s everyday work with the approval of 11 key recommendations, among them the naming of the Chanie Wenjack School for Indigenous Studies.

Coinciding with National Aboriginal Day on June 21, the announcement of the newly-named School was among a substantial series of recommendations, furthering Trent’s leadership in Indigenous reconciliation and education. The recommendations include an innovative lecture-talk series that will bring prominent Indigenous leaders to the University to speak on Indigenous issues, and a new academic requirement for all undergraduate students to successfully complete at least 0.5 credits from an approved list of courses with Indigenous content. With this recommendation, Trent becomes only the third university in Canada to institute mandatory Indigenous course content.

“The naming of the Chanie Wenjack School for Indigenous Studies and the implementation of the associated recommendations are a milestone in the evolution of Indigenous Studies at Trent. We aim to educate indigenous and non-indigenous students about Indigenous history, traditions, cultures, and ways of knowing,” said Dr. Leo Groarke, president and vice-chancellor of Trent University. “National Aboriginal Day is a good day to celebrate these initiatives, but we are striving to make Indigenous reconciliation part of our everyday work and consciousness.”

The naming of the new School honours the life and history of Chanie Wenjack, a young Anishinaabe boy who died in his attempt to escape residential school in 1966. The Chanie Wenjack School of Indigenous Studies brings together Trent’s undergraduate, master’s and Ph.D. programs under one School and unites various events, initiatives and spaces dedicated to Indigenous perspectives, knowledge and culture at the University. Prior to the launch of the Chanie Wenjack School for Indigenous Studies, Trent University paid tribute to Chanie and other residential school victims and survivors when Wenjack Theatre, the largest lecture hall on campus, was named in his honour in 1973.

“This is the latest effort in Trent’s well-known 48-year record of Indigenous reconciliation,” said David Newhouse, director of the School, and chair of Indigenous Studies at Trent. “We will continue to honour the life of Chanie Wenjack and recognize the impact that residential schools had on Indigenous peoples through the work that we plan to undertake at Trent. Our goal at the Chanie Wenjack School of Indigenous Studies is to constantly advance the knowledge of and about Indigenous peoples with a view to the overall improvement of quality of life and to contribute to the creation of places of respect, dignity and power for Indigenous peoples.”

Additional initiatives listed among the recommendations approved by the University’s Senate include:

  • Launch of new Indigenous Research Centre – uniting researchers across the University who share an interest in Indigenous issues;
  • Redesign of Native Studies Reading Room into Centre for Indigenous Learning –housed in the newly renovated Bata Library in fall 2018, his new space will feature a display of significant documents, including the Williams Treaty and other Indigenous documents that are significant to the history of the territory on which Trent is located;
  • Creation of Indigenous Knowledges & Pedagogies Working Group – within the Centre for Teaching and Learning, this group will assist faculty in the design, or review and redesign of courses, and in the creation of new course offerings;
  • Establishment of a permanent sub-committee of Undergraduate Studies Committee (USC) to recommend and periodically review courses on the Approved Indigenous Course list; and
  • Review of Research Office portfolio and operations with aim of developing and/or adjusting current policies to raise awareness of, and respect for, Indigenous people.

“These approved recommendations help set the way forward for the next phase of Trent’s work on Indigenous reconciliation,” said Dr. Jacqueline Muldoon, provost and vice-president Academic at Trent. “Over the course of the University’s first half century, our focus was centred on the development of Indigenous programming. Looking ahead, our goals are to ensure that our foundation supporting Indigenous reconciliation remains strong and that we extend it to encompass key institutional sites and processes so that reconciliation becomes fully engrained into our everyday work as a university.”

Trent’s leadership in Indigenous Studies dates back to 1969 when the University became the first in Canada, and only the second in North America, to establish an academic department dedicated to the study of Indigenous peoples and Indigenous knowledges. Trent was the first university in Canada to create unique Indigenous spaces, hire Indigenous student support staff, recruit and admit Indigenous students through special entry programs, and to teach Indigenous languages and Indigenous Knowledge with elders and traditional peoples. A full timeline of the University’s history of leadership in Indigenous education can be viewed at the new website for the Chanie Wenjack School for Indigenous Studies at trentu.ca/indigenous.


 

About Chanie Wenjack
Chanie Wenjack was a young Anishinaabe boy from Ogoki Post in Marten Falls in Northern Ontario, Canada. He attended Celia Jeffrey Indian Residential School near Kenora, Ontario. The school was run by the Women’s Society of the Presbyterian Church. Chanie attended the school for two years and ran away on Oct 16, 1966. He was headed home when he died of exposure on October 23, 1966 on the railway tracks near Redditt, Ontario, the home of his uncle.

About Trent University
One of Canada’s top universities, Trent University was founded on the ideal of interactive learning that’s personal, purposeful and transformative. Consistently recognized nationally for leadership in teaching, research and student satisfaction, Trent attracts excellent students from across the country and around the world. Here, undergraduate and graduate students connect and collaborate with faculty, staff and their peers through diverse communities that span residential colleges, classrooms, disciplines, hands-on research, co-curricular and community-based activities. Across all disciplines, Trent brings critical, integrative thinking to life every day. Trent’s unique approach to personal development through supportive, collaborative community engagement is in more demand than
ever. Students lead the way by co-creating experiences rooted in dialogue, diverse perspectives and collaboration. In a learning environment that builds life-long passion for inclusion, leadership and social change, Trent’s students, alumni, faculty and staff are engaged global citizens who are catalysts in developing sustainable solutions to complex issues. Trent’s Peterborough campus boasts award-winning architecture in a breathtaking natural setting on the banks of the Otonabee River, just 90 minutes from downtown Toronto, while Trent University Durham – Greater Toronto Area, delivers a distinct mix of programming in the east GTA.
The land on which Trent University is located is the traditional territory of the Anishinaabe Mississauga adjacent to Haudenosaunee Territory and in the territory covered by Treaty 20 and the Williams Treaties.

Blackfoot Actor Embracing International Recognition for Role in ‘Wonder Woman’

Cast of Wonder Woman
 

Eugene Brave Rock is the Blackfoot actor from the Blood Tribe in Southern Alberta, who is enjoying world-wide recognition for his role as “Chief,” a.k.a. “Napi,” in Wonder Woman, one of the highest grossing films of 2017. I had the chance to talk with Brave Rock and discuss how his latest role has given him international recognition, including a recent “Headdress Honour Ceremony” bestowed upon him by his own First Nation.

First, we have to include some of his film and TV acting accomplishments like The Revenant, Big Thunder TV series, Blackstone, Tin Star, Klondike and Timeless. Originally, Brave Rock began work in the industry as a movie and TV stuntman but has embraced his acting chops and grown into a fine actor.

The role as “Chief” in the DC Universe Wonder Woman came out-of-the-blue when he was on vacation and his agent contacted him to audition for a role at Warner Brothers studios. When Brave Rock asked his agent details on the part he was told the studio would give him the lines for the character when he arrived in Hollywood for his first reading.

This would be his first film audition with a major Hollywood studio and Brave Rock said he was a bit excited. Not knowing for which film he was reading made the experience even more nerve-wracking.

Eugene Brave Rock in his role as The Chief

Eugene Brave Rock in his role as “The Chief”

“I was pretty overwhelmed. I was going to the Warner Brothers studios,” Brave Rock said. “I totally blanked when I read off the script and I thought, ‘Oh well, I screwed that one up.’”

Casting told him he “nailed it” in the audition. Brave Rock said he was surprised they would say that. “Well, I thought, ‘Oh, they were just being nice and that’s probably the last I would hear from them,’” said Brave Rock.

It turned-out Wonder Woman director Patty Jenkins liked something in Brave Rock and a second audition was requested and he was offered the role.

“I was completely shocked that I got the role. I then asked what the role was for but they would not initially tell me because it was ‘top secret,’” said Brave Rock.

Eventually he was told he would be “Chief” in the upcoming movie version of Wonder Woman, but that he couldn’t tell anyone he landed the role in the big budget film, not even his wife.

Brave Rock said he enjoyed working with Gal Gadot, the actor who landed the coveted role as the Amazon Princess turned Wonder Woman.

“You know she was amazing, down-to-earth, and it’s so nice to see someone in that position to be just one of the guys and spend time with all the actors; the whole cast had such an awesome time and there was a lot of good vibes on set during filming,” said Brave Rock.

Filming took over seven months in England and other locations in Europe, with four months of straight shooting. Brave Rock says he flew over the Atlantic Ocean ten times to re-shoot scenes but there were no complaints as he enjoyed the process. Plus, he wanted to get his character performance right.

In the film, when Wonder Woman and Chief first meet one another, they talk to each other in the Blackfoot language – Brave Rock’s traditional language and the original language of over 40,000 Blackfoot people from the Blood Tribe, Siksika Nation, Peigan Nation, and from the Blackfeet Nation in Montana. It was the director’s idea to introduce Chief in his Blackfoot language and they both agreed they did not want to stereotype the character even though growing up, when someone called Brave Rock “Chief,” he said “those were fighting words.”

Blackfoot is the only non-English language not subtitled in the film as it is purposely left-out by director Jenkins for dedicated fans to uncover. It didn’t take long. Certain viewers revealed that during their introductions Chief introduced himself as “Napi,” a Blackfoot demi-god.

Napi is the culture hero of the Blackfoot tribe (sometimes referred to as a “transformer” by folklorists). He is a trickster, a troublemaker, and sometimes a foolish person, but he is also responsible for shaping the world the Blackfoot live in and frequently helps the people. Brave Rock revealed on his Twitter that Napi was an actual part of the script.

Is this a big deal? Of course it is. Not only for the character, but also for the overall DC Universe (DCU). It means several things. For starters, it means that Greek Gods are not the only “real” mythological deities in the DCU. Just like in the comics, there are several pantheons out there.

Second, it means that as a demi-god, Chief is ageless, much like Wonder Woman, and could show-up again in a future Wonder Woman film, or maybe another part of the DCU.

In a compelling scene, Wonder Woman asks Chief why he isn’t fighting on either side of the war and Chief replies he doesn’t have anything to fight for. When Wonder Woman asks about that, Chief says that Steve’s people (the white man) took it all from him.

In Hollywood, First Nation people are often portrayed as one of three stereotypes: the savage, Pocahontas, or, the medicine man. However the film industry is beginning to embrace a new kind of First Nation character: authentic, real and still here. Films like Smoke Signals, Kanehsatake: 270 Years of Resistance and Fast Runner are embracing the authentic First Nations people. Chief in Wonder Woman is just the beginning.

When asked for the most challenging part of the role, Brave Rock said the role itself was not challenging because he enjoyed every minute of the production, but then added, “The most challenging part was being away from my family; I missed the birth of my son. The attack in Paris, that was a bit scary and tough.”

Brave Rock has always wished to one day be an actor and starring in this blockbuster is something special to him.

“It has been a dream of mine since I was a kid on the reserve to be an actor. There are so many stories of our culture that we can share,” Brave Rock said. “I’ll never forget where I came from. I’ve lived in Forest Lawn (Calgary neighbourhood), Bannock Street in Lethbridge, and of course Kainai (Blood Tribe).”

Now the question is: Will the franchise decide to bring back the character of Chief in Wonder Woman 2 or any other DCU production? This is a question Brave Rock couldn’t answer since there is so much secrecy involved with a sequel.

As for the future, Brave Rock will be in post-production as a stunt performer in an upcoming film. He is enjoying the amazing response to Wonder Woman and how it has ignited his acting career.

“I will take every opportunity that is there, there are so many stories out there,” said Brave Rock.

The Drum is Calling Festival

This is one event you don’t want to miss! The Drum is Calling Festival is a one of a kind, once in a lifetime event, providing an opportunity for everyone to celebrate Vancouver’s three Host Nations. Saturday July 22 celebrate the opening of this Festival with a free pancake breakfast for the first 500 guests arriving at Larwill Park (688 Cambie + Georgia).

The City of Vancouver, the world’s first official City of Reconciliation, has created the Drum is Calling Festival in partnership with the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh Nations. This 9-day festival will feature cultural traditions, traditional and cutting-edge arts, music, dance, film, poetry, PowWow, and much more.

Highlighting the festival will be stellar performances from iconic artists such as singer-songwriter Buffy Sainte-Marie, PowWowStep creator DJ Shub, singer-songwriter Chantal Kreviazuk, country sensation Crystal Shawanda, northern Ontario rockers Midnight Shine, Juno Award winner William Prince, rising R&B star George Leach, genre-defying artist Kinnie Starr, literary giant Tomson Highway, and powerful spoken word poet Shane Koyczan and The Short Story Long.

Additional highlights will include hands-on workshops and live programming inside the Indigenous housing forms built by the Kanata Festival on Turtle Island. The inaugural Indigenous Fashion Week is the brainchild of former international model Joleen Mitton. The show will feature the consolidated and emerging artists of Indigenous fashion design and modelling. While Having Soup is a powerful installation in which over the amount of time it takes to consume a bowl of soup, Indigenous and non-Indigenous Vancouverites will engage in a “three-course” dialogue about charged issues during Canada 150+.

There will be hands-on workshops, and live programming inside the site including Theatre for Young People presented by Shaw Communications Inc., carving and weaving workshops, play readings, curated short films by the National Film Board, From Oral to Written presented in partnership with Talonbooks and the Vancouver Writers Fest and the best of authentic Indigenous artisans, vendors and food. Exhibition games and a Basketball tournament will be taking place in adjacent streets. A spectacular night of intercultural drumming will ignite the thunderous power of dancers and drummers from around the world and is led by renowned percussionist and cultural collaborator Sal Ferraras.

Festivalgoers will experience something new every day. The artistic and cultural program will be in sync with the theme of each day, starting July 22 with 3-Host Nation Day, and followed up with Our Elders Day, Matriarch Day, 7 Generations – Youth Day Presented by Shaw Communications Inc., Warriors Day, Friendship Day, Gathering Our Relations Day, Transformation Day and closing the festival on July 30 with Intertribal In Action Day.

Oh, did I mention, all events are FREE! Taking place in the heart of downtown at Larwill Park, bounded by Cambie & Beatty streets and Georgia and Dunsmuir streets in downtown Vancouver, everyone is welcome. Those activities taking place at the Queen Elizabeth theatre and Vancouver Playhouse theatre require tickets. Tickets are free and links to register online are available at canada150plus.ca/drum/

Friends and families alike can share what we all have in common – our joys, fears, hopes and dreams through film, song, literature and dance.
For information and full schedule of events visit canada150plus.ca

In the Deepest, Darkest Parts of Our Hearts

You must admit you’ve had evil little thoughts from time to time. We’ve all had them, because we’ve all wished ill on another. Even the most holy-roller has the devil to curse.
Don’t feel bad if you wished your neighbor’s yappy mutt got laryngitis and had to go to a peaceful farm in the country.
In the minds of most people, that’s where it ends. For others, they may continue to obsess about that dumb beast until they too become dumb beasts.
Rage can be triggered from something as simple as a drive in the car.
Who among us hasn’t wondered about the mentality of the person in the passing lane who is matching speed with another mental case in the slow lane? Don’t they have mirrors to see the ever growing line-up of cars behind them?
Is the driver purposely playing traffic cop, or, are they just inconsiderate Canadians?
Maybe they’re unaware they are the ones breaking the law. I’m sure they too have seen those signs along the road reading: “SLOWER DRIVERS KEEP RIGHT or KEEP RIGHT EXCEPT TO PASS.”
Ah, that felt good to express myself. I sincerely hope I’m doing the same for my readers and all people in the rear view mirror.
But this is where we, as a civil society, should draw the line. To cross the line between sanity and road rage is as easy as choosing between the force of good and the dark side.
Rage is just one of the multitudes of triggers that can cause someone to get violent or have an emotional meltdown that makes Chernobyl look like dripping wax.
If rages are red and melancholy is blue, that leaves jealousy, the green-eyed monster, and you.
Let’s imagine you yearn for an unattainable heart and a golden future. Then some loser, whom you went to school with, buys a winning lottery ticket at the same place where you just bought a loser ticket. And if that wasn’t bad enough, the lucky schmuck then marries your dream and goes on to have three very ugly children.
I wonder if you could then look me in the eye and tell me that you never had any nasty little day-dreams about your old schoolmate? If you could honestly do that, then I think you deserve a medal, or at the very least a metal plate for your head.
To wish upon a star is a wonderful childhood memory, but to seek out vengeance is a childish act. Now I’m not saying you shouldn’t wish the villain their comeuppance; just don’t take the yappy mutt to a peaceful farm in the country.
I do see a bright future for humanities’ dark thoughts. Man comes from a violent history marred by wars and hatred. I’m sure there was a time if some chariot driver cut you off in traffic it was punishable by beheading.
If you are seeing red, green or feeling blue, don’t seek the blackness of revenge, seek help instead. Talk to a buddy, or, do what I do: draw pictures of grumpy people and poke holes in it.
For those who can’t draw, just imagine you’re the loser from high school and you just won $50 million dollars and go on to have three beautiful children.
THE END
Email Bernie Bates at: beeinthebonnet@shaw.ca