Native success stories need to be trumpeted. I'm not speaking especially of artists. We have educators, scientists, engineers, architects, business people, farmers, doctors, lawyers and an occasional Indian chief who overcome great obstacles to become true leaders and role models. Canada needs their stories.
Another measure of how far we've come
anything other than victims, survivors, complainers, whiners, gangsters, criminals, drunks and errant politicos.
It was, in short, a glorious television moment. It was a great Canadian television moment. Sure, Native actors have been on podiums before and will continue to be but what struck me the most was the absence of a full media push on the story. It struck me. It didn't surprise me.
When Michelle Thrush won a Gemini Award for her role on the First Nations drama Blackstone Sept. 7, it was another cultural high water mark. Again, a Canadian Native person topped his/her industry. Again, another First Nations person showed how far we've come as mainstream talents. Again, another First Nations person trumped a stacked deck and won and again, the inspiring story went largely ignored by the media.
Bridges rust and collapse in time. But a gap once it's filled remains filled. Artists get that. So do visionaries. Our work consists of filling the gaps through communication, of telling stories, of bringing people together rather than pushing them apart. We're concerned with showing how much we are alike more than how much we're different.
Sure, Joseph Boyden got a lot of press for nabbing a Giller Prize for his novel Through Black Spruce in 2008, but in the main, our success stories are given short shrift. It's as though there's no cachet in a Native person being victorious. It's like media still can't see us as Nike Shoes Childrens
That's Nike Sneaker Black And White not to say that non native role models like Richard Ford, Cormac McCarthy, Alan Fotheringham, Peter Gzowski, Michael Ondaatje and Andy Rooney didn't play a very significant part. Rather, the emotive impact of having a Native person succeed and blaze a trail is irreplaceable in a young First Nations person's life and a responsible media would give us those stories on a regular basis. Our own Native Nike Girls Shoes Black
She was gracious. She dedicated her award to the late Gordon Tootoosis, her mentor and cast mate on Blackstone. Her reaction to her name being called was pure joy, surprise, humility and shock. Not that she's unused to acting awards. Nike Shoes Grey And Red
I'm proud of Michelle Thrush. I'm proud of anyone who rises above barriers, limitations, preconceived notions and succeeds. Those stories are heartening. They are elevating. They inspire. They add to the immense and glorious fabric of this country and right here, right now, we need more of them.
The same role won her Best Supporting Actress award at the 2010 American Indian Film Festival, for instance.
What Michelle Thrush proved again on national television, is that we are so much more than that. I've been privileged in my life to have met a lot of artists, entertainers and visionaries. The fact that the majority of them have had brown faces is not an exaggeration.
So Native media needs to lead the way. They need to show mainstream media how deep our talent pool runs. They need to show its intersecting currents. They need to inform the mainstream because they still only really visit our communities when there's a tragedy. It's actually a very good position to be in because Canadians in general don't even know there is a Native media either.
The Cree actor from Calgary has been labouring in the film, TV and theater trenches for parts of three decades. When I met her in 1987 she was ebullient, engaging and filled with hope. The face she showed to the nation as she accepted her acting award was the exact same face. This despite the dearth of good, solid roles at times and the short memory of industry types who still only see a brown face where a natural actor stands.
media suffers the same lack as well, to be fair.
When I became the first Native person to win a National Newspaper Award 20 years ago, there was no real story there either. But there should have been. For me, for Michelle and the host of other award winning First Nations people.
While our politicians continue to wage the battle of divisiveness and separation, our artists engage in a different struggle. The Shawn Atleos of the world maintain that their desire is to build bridges. Artists, on the other hand, work to fill in the gaps that require bridges. They fill them with character, image, visions and fresh ideas about the nature of their lives and the lives of their people.
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