She’s from the Rez! An interview! Whoa!

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I’m sitting in Cook Street Village with a girl who you may have seen popping up on my different social media sites.  Her name is Cece (Cecelia) Sawyer and she is not only my sweety but she is also the in house consultant when Cheri and I are working on bits for our character Mandy, as a cultural consultant and she has been our photographer, extra, and more assistant on everything we do.  She is not only First Nations but she is born and raised on a reservation, namely the Scianew Beecher Bay Reservation near Metchosin, British Columbia.

Q. So, Cece, what was it like growing up on the Rez in Beecher Bay?

A. It was beautiful.  I lived with my grandparents for most of it.  I remember learning my manners and being polite.  I also learned a lot about Native traditions.

Q. How long were you there?

A. I was there all my life, until I was about twenty two I think.  My grandparents looked after me and my cousins.  I remember going to the First Nations church.  That was me and my grandparents and my mom.

Q. What kind of church was that?  Christian or Native, or a mix

A. It was Christian, praying to the same God.  Everybody thinks its not but it is.  I remember my mom using shaker bells and everyone singing Native Songs, in our language.  I remember shaking each others going around before we would leave.  Everyone in the church had to wear all white.  Some of the songs were healing songs.  That was cool

Q. What was in the Rez besides obviously homes.

A. Dogs!  Just kidding.  There is the Longhouse which I also call a smokehouse there.  They do ceremonies.  It’s called a smokehouse because of traditional fires used during ceremonies like funerals.  My uncle use to own a corner store there.  If you wanted to go off the reserve you had to get someone to take us because there was no bus service.

Q Is there a shuttle now?

A. No.  I’ve heard people to talk about it at the Treaty Conference at Ocean Point.  Once and a while you get to go to these.

Q. Is there anything else you remember?

A. Lots of Chief elections.  There was some partying back then.  I’m glad it’s not as much like nowadays.  I like going out to my Uncle’s for Thanksgiving.  He has a beautiful home that he built right on the Pacific Ocean.  The rez is now called Spirit Bay and it’s definitely changing for the better.

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My problem with cultural appropriation.

One of our rules in the Ollie and Emma project is that we leave the issue aside and just have fun with the opportunity to bring people together.  That aside I think their should be some ground rules.  Being the white half of a comedy team writing a multicultural project knowing where the line between funny and too far is only too apparent.  It all comes down to simply respecting someone else and looking past the stereotypes which need to be finally dropped.
The problem I have with Halloween headdresses, sport teams names and so on is that it treats Native culture like it’s something of the past.  We call the University of Victoria sports teams the Vikes (Vikings).  We don’t call them the UVic Norwegians.  There is another team I’m sure is called the Pilgrims (I will admit…I’m not especially a sports person.  Apologies to those who are.).  The folks who are referred to as Braves are still very much alive and active as well as the use of real ceremonial garments (and unless your entire sports team is First Nations, which would have the name make more sense).  The best way to think of this is consider something that is important or sacred to yourself and ask yourself if you would want it used like a gimmick.  Yeah, First Nations people don’t love that either.

This is one of the things about working with my cowriter Cheri Jacobs that I think has it’s own influence on the Ollie and Emma project.  Our two cultures can work together with common respect and have lots of fun doing it.  All the people who I have met have been very welcoming and free of judgement. 

Community is possible.

Cheers,
Tom

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Mid December Madness!

Hey everyone!  Been a really busy week and right now I am up ridiculously early (got up at 3:30)…doing things that sort of qualify as work, but yeah it’s mostly puttering.  I can sleep later.  I’ll get to it.  More coffee!

This time of year is not only the gift buying but so many projects are going full tilt.  When I’m not working Cheri and I writing the first season of Ollie and Emma, getting ready for promo shoots and then of course you fit in being a returning student at Uvic which is in those exam things and the band http://www.Cookeilidh.com is getting geared up for Chrismas, including a show at the Mary Winspear center that I am totally stoked about being that I grew up on the Peninsula!

Here’s a recent photo from the Ollie and Emma shoots before I just go off on a tangent about defining “growing up on a peninsula”.  Yeah, that’s probably for the best…

http://ollieandemma.wordpress.com

 

Cast shoot for Ollie and Emma at Cinevic

Cast shoot for Ollie and Emma at Cinevic