We trust artists like Michelle Latimer to avoid harming Indigenous people

Posted in Articles, Arts, Canada, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, Passing on 2021-12-06 01:46Z by Steven

We trust artists like Michelle Latimer to avoid harming Indigenous people

NOW Toronto

Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers

Trickster and Inconvenient Indian director Michelle Latimer poses on top of a condo rooftop in Toronto.
Samuel Engelking

Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers explains the particular kind of pain revelations about Michelle Latimer have caused within the Indigenous film community

We were gathered for a filmmaking workshop at the Urban Native Youth Association in East Vancouver. I was co-facilitating with filmmaker Jessica Hallenbeck. One participant was that particular kind of shy brown-skinned Indigenous teenage boy who didn’t yet know his worth in this world. He wore sweatpants, a hoodie and sneakers, and had a head of thick black hair. He was afraid to smile, much less make eye contact with the other teens in the room.

I’d asked the young people to introduce themselves – to give us their names, where they come from and what they found most exciting about film. When his turn came, he kept his gaze steady on one spot on the floor as he quietly shared his name and that he was from Vancouver. I interjected. “And, what nation are you from?” He paused, and then whispered, “I don’t know.”

My heart sank to untold depths. I had just inadvertently implied that an Indigenous youth who grew up in foster care didn’t belong. Belonging is everything in Indigenous communities, but at that moment I made him feel so small. I still carry the shame from that interaction, knowing I could not undo that harm.

People wonder how former Trickster director Michelle Latimer, whose identity has recently come under scrutiny, could claim to be Indigenous for so long without skepticism. She was trusted because the Indigenous film community is protective. We want to avoid doing harm to those who have experienced the trauma of displacement…

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Mixing up identity, race and culture

Posted in Articles, Arts, Asian Diaspora, Canada, Media Archive on 2018-04-04 22:21Z by Steven

Mixing up identity, race and culture

Toronto, Ontario

Samantha Edwards

Zoé Doyle (left) and Vanessa Trenton star in a new production of the groundbreaking play.

MIXIE & THE HALF BREEDS written by Julie Tamiko Manning and Adrienne Wong, directed by Jenna Rodgers. Presented by fu-GEN Theatre Company at the Pia Bouman School for Ballet (6 Noble). Previews from Tuesday (April 3), opens April 5 and runs to April 15. $15-$35.

Growing up, Julie Tamiko Manning didn’t know many people who looked like her. Manning is half-Japanese and half-white, a hybrid identity that made her stick out in her hometown in the Eastern Townships of Quebec.

In the early 2000s, when Manning was in her 20s, she went to Vancouver for the first time and found herself working with a cast made up entirely of mixed race people. During that trip, she became friends with Adrienne Wong, a half-Chinese, half-white playwright and actor originally from Calgary and now based in Ottawa.

“Adrienne and I totally bonded over being mixies,” says Manning, who now lives in Montreal.

“No matter what the mix is, there’s a very similar experience that you have lived as a mixed race person.”

Like Manning, I’m half-Japanese and half-white, and I understand why she and Wong felt an immediate kinship. Mixed race people – or “mixies,” as some of us like to call ourselves – have a special, almost familial connection to one another. We can spot a fellow mixie from across a crowded streetcar or in the most minor roles in a movie. We can relate to strangers constantly asking us, “Where are you from? No, where are you really from?” or feeling culturally estranged from both sides of our identity.

These ideas of identity, race and culture in Canadian society are explored in Manning and Wong’s comedic, fantastical play, Mixie & The Half Breeds, which follows the burgeoning friendship of two mixed race women who couldn’t be more different…

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