Confidential

Windspeaker Confidential

Windspeaker Confidential talks to the up and comers in Indian Country and asks them the questions that we would if we had the chance.

 

Confidential: Aaron Paquette

Aaron Paquette


July-2008

Windspeaker: What one quality do you most value in a friend?

Aaron Paquette: A tough one right off the bat!  All the good answers are honesty, loyalty, that kind of thing, but if someone’s your friend, hopefully they already have that in spades.  I think I’d have to say the ability to sit with you in silence, neither one feeling forced to break the awkward moment because the moment isn’t awkward at all!  It’s just you and an old friend sitting there. Well, now that I put it that way it sounds kind of boring...

W: What is it that really makes you mad?

A.P.: People throwing their trash out the window of their car.  Who do they think is going to clean it up anyway?  Me?  They’re probably right, but that’s a little presumptuous on their part, don’t you think?  Seriously, though, it really bothers me.  It speaks of a complete absence of gratitude for the earth we live on and share.  I can’t really blame anyone, because who do you blame?  In the end everyone does the best they can with what they’ve got at the moment.  If you don’t have gratitude, it’s because no one gave that gift to you, or if they did you didn’t understand it.  I guess it’s why we have a whole lifetime to learn it.

 

W: When are you at your happiest?

A.P.: I should probably say that it’s when I’m painting, but really it’s when I’m with my family.  There’s just something special about being able to tell old stories and love them every time, and to be able to take tragedy and turn it into laughter.  Even though your family can make you go crazy sometimes, getting through it is healing and it’s when I learn the most.

 

W: What one word best describes you when you are at your worst?

A.P.: Hopeless

 

W: What one person do you most admire and why?

A.P.: Myself.  My humility.  Ha ha, just kidding.  It’s got to be my mom, for giving it her best every day of our lives.  They don’t give awards for that, but they sure as heck should.

 

W: What is the most difficult thing you’ve ever had to do?

A.P.: Getting to the point where I knew what it really meant to let go.  Once I finally reached that, actually letting go was the easy part.

 

W: What is your greatest accomplishment?

A.P.: Being a father.  I don’t just mean “making a baby”.  Any fool can do that.  I mean actually sticking around, being a part of my kids lives.  Being clean, strong, and patient - all the things I needed and all kids need from their dads.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m far from perfect, but for my children I try to be a better man every day.

 

W: What one goal remains out of reach?

A.P.: Are any goals really out of reach? We walk from moment to moment, sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly, but eventually we get to where we were going, even if it means finding out that what we thought we really wanted wasn’t all that important after all!  We can achieve anything but what’s really cool is learning what we should be trying to achieve.

 

W: If you couldn’t do what you’re doing today, what would you be doing?

A.P.: Something else! What I mean is, in the end I’ve found it doesn’t really matter as long as you love it.  I’ve been in deep pits shoveling fish guts and found the fun in it.  I’ve cleaned up messes, served drinks, stocked shelves in the middle of the night, shaped gold, cut glass, planted trees and so on – and even though every job I’ve had was hard, it was losing myself in the work that took the work out of it, you know?  There’s something fascinating in everything we do, we just have to find it.

 

W: What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

A.P.: Be quiet.  Speak up. My dad always taught me to just be quiet and listen.  Let someone say everything they need to say.  And then still be quiet!  The other person may have more to share if you give them a chance. 

It’s the only way you’ll ever know what’s important to them.  My mom always taught me to speak up, to stand up for myself.  Not to shout or get angry, but to just be firm, speak plainly, simply and then see what happens.

 

W: Did you take it?

A.P.: Eventually.

 

W: How do you hope to be remembered?

A.P.: Well, if anyone remembers me at all, I hope it’s because I made their life happier.  The sad thing is I know I’ve hurt people along the way – so when I’m gone, they might hold on to those pains I’ve caused and it will make them unhappy. 

If I could track them all down and make it right, I would, but I can’t.  So what do you do? 

I guess try to be a force for good in this world, so good that it spreads out and touches the lives of the people you might have wronged and that it makes things a little brighter for them - and everyone else.  They may never know that the happiness spread out from your good actions, and they never have to!  All that matters is you did good in your life.  Enough good that it passed beyond yourself. So I hope to be remembered not for myself, but for the happiness I added to this world. That would be mighty fine.

 

Aaron Paquette, 34, is a deep-thinking Edmonton artist who avoids “angst” in his paintings, preferring to portray crow tricksters wearing bone breastplates and top hats, and beautiful, earthy women with gold light glowing around their heads.

“I’m not trying to make them look like saints,” he explains. “I’m expressing my awe and respect for the sacred beings they are.”

He began his artistic career as a stained glass artisan and gold smith, the influence reflected in his trademark bold, black outlines around his subjects and  meticulous attention to small details.

Aaron is currently showing a new body of work at Edmonton’s Bearclaw Gallery.

Confidential: Crystal Favel

Crystal Favel

Crystal Favel

December - 2008

Windspeaker: What one quality do you most value in a friend?

Crystal Favel: I value my husband’s commitment to make my heart beat with harmony, hope and inspiration.

W: What is it that really makes you mad?

C.F.: When community members call me names and try to bully me for being different. It also hurts when you trust someone with your story/ music and they betray you with ulterior motives.  Does honour not have its place in this world anymore?

W: When are you at your happiest?

C.F.: I love to visit the mountain I was born on; it grounds me. It takes me from my lowest feeling to my highest inspiration. I especially love speaking from the heart, it opens so many doors for me. I feel like I could reach out to the world.

W: What one word best describes you when you are at your worst?

C.F.: I am very tearful when I’m triggered by my past.

W: What one person do you most admire and why?

C.F.: I admire my business partner because there isn’t one skill we don’t cover as a team.  He pushes me to push my limits and I love that. 

W: What is the most difficult thing you’ve ever had to do?

C.F.: Blazing trails is the most difficult thing I’ve done because by the time I’ve broken down barriers, I’m usually licking my wounds at the same time. It’s bittersweet. I have also had to give up “the fight” to save my own life.  It’s hard to walk away.

W: What is your greatest accomplishment?

C.F.: I have touched the hearts and minds of thousands of people through my personal story of survival and my niche — DJ skills. I went from DJ-ing to motivational speaking and the combination empowers me to successfully move on in life. I am also a CEO of a corporation that uses multimedia to inspire the world.  Did I forget to mention that I DJ’d for over 380,000 parade attendees this year in Vancouver on a moving float.  That’s going to be hard to top.

W: What one goal remains out of reach?

C.F.: I am attempting to write an autobiography, but I have no idea how to start.

W: If you couldn’t do what you’re doing today, what would you be doing?

C.F.: I would dedicate my life to the protection of every single frog in the world.

W: What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

C.F.: Nothing ever worth it in life ever came easy.

W: Did you take it?

C.F.: I sure did, I have the scars to prove it.

W: How do you hope to be remembered?

C.F.: Trail Blazer, Wax Warrior and “The One You Could Trust.”

Crystal Favel is the CEO of Urban Indian Productions and is a proud member of the Métis nation. Favel is also known in North America as DJ Kwe – an award-winning DJ and cutting edge music producer who incorporated her own production company. Her trail-blazing ideas and projects exude innovation, excellence, and sharp-shooting organizational standards. She is known for her ability to inspire thousands of people through her ambitious vision.  “The world awaits me,” she proudly exclaims.

Confidential: Derek Miller

Derek Miller

Derek Miller

May - 2009 

Windspeaker: What one quality do you most value in a friend?

Derek Miller: Laughter

W: What is it that really makes you mad?

D.M.: When I get pulled over for speeding.

W: When are you at your happiest?

D.M.: When I wake up.

W: What one word best describes you when you are at your worst?

D.M.: What?

W: What one person do you most admire and why?

D.M.: I admire Rihanna because she is very pretty.

W: What is the most difficult thing you’ve ever had to do?

D.M.: Be patient.

W: What is your greatest accomplishment?

D.M.: I can cook. Barely!

W: What one goal remains out of reach?

D.M.: Can’t seem to get that girl outta my mind.  Elvis dance chops.

W: If you couldn’t do what you’re doing today, what would you be doing?

D.M.: Funk if I know?

W: What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

D.M.: Once you’re past the tang, you got ‘er licked!

W: Did you take it?

D.M.: Yes

W: How do you hope to be remembered?

D.M.: Fondly.  I’m sorry if I have wronged you. Forgive Me. Until we meet again.

A chance meeting with his grandfather’s warp-necked Fender, languishing in a forgotten closet until someone handed it to the 13-year-old, launched Derek Miller’s astounding music career.

“It was as though my grandfather’s spirit was saying `take this, talk to your mystery through it and everything will be fine’,” says Derek.

The teen, born in 1974, discovered what that old guitar could do by listening to Muddy Waters, Stevie Ray Vaughn and Eddie Van Halen tracks from his mother’s record collection. Putting his own fingers to the strings, it wasn’t long before he was playing in pick-up bands and local outfits, practicing and writing music until he released an EP called Sketches in 1999. The production was impressive, but due to its independent release it didn’t amount to many sales.

Touring with Buffy Sainte-Marie and winning a Canadian Aboriginal Music Award followed, as would a move to the United States. Leaving his Six Nations of the Grand River, Mohawk Territory behind, Derek made a career move to Arizona, where he worked with Keith Secola and The Wild Band of Indians. He co-produced Secola’s award-winning Fingermonkey CD and developed his touring chops as he traveled with the group to dates across America and Europe.

It was the release of 2002s Music is the Medicine that earned Derek status in the blues-rock world. He won a Juno with it and hit the road with a vengeance, performing in festivals and opening for the likes of George Thorogood and David Clayton Thomas’ Blood, Sweat and Tears.

But by 2005, as Derek began to record a new CD called The Dirty Looks, he felt he had “lost my soul completely” as the perils of touring caught up with him. Exhausted, he knew he needed help so he went through rehabilitation and “wrung out the laundry.

“Through native culture, ceremony and trauma recovery I felt I’d won my soul back and you can hear that torture on that record. I’m just grateful I lived through it. I am very grateful.”

When The Dirty Looks finally debuted in 2007, it cemented Derek as one of the finest musicians of his generation. According to one reviewer “the songs as part of his spiritual journey serve as a catalyst for the curing of a troubled soul.” Another said the mood on this CD may be somber but his guitar playing is all fire and brimstone.

Derek is also adding to his resumé the role of entrepreneur with his project Derek Miller Enterprises “DME”, a multi-media entertainment company. He’s excited about helping future performers and is “confident the business ventures I am committed to will help build an infrastructure to benefit the generations to come.”

Just how much of a blues-rock virtuoso is Derek? He’s been touted in the Year’s Best for New York’s Village Voice, on the heels of his making the Top Ten of the Year in the Detroit Metro Times Critics poll, alongside the likes of Alice Cooper and the White Stripes.

Confidential: Dr. Evan Adams

Dr. Evan Adams hosts the NAAW 2011

Dr. Evan Adams — [  windspeaker confidential  ]

Windspeaker: What one quality do you most value in a friend?

Dr. Evan Adams: Self-awareness! Do they know both their strengths and their weaknesses? Do they know what is sacred and funny about themselves? Self-awareness is central to dignity, commitment, morality, listening, and empathy.

W: What is it that really makes you mad?

E.A.: Arrogance.

W: When are you at your happiest?

E.A.: It depends if I’m alone or not. If I’m alone: Being at the movies. If it’s a social occasion: Hanging with Aboriginal people! Aboriginal people are usually soooo funny and smart and I know I’m going to laugh and laugh!

W: What one word best describes you when you are at your worst?

E.A.: Drunken.

W: What one person do you most admire and why?

E.A.: David Suzuki. He’s a legend!

W: What is the most difficult thing you’ve ever had to do?

E.A.: Pass my medical school exams. Crazy, eh, that a man-made thing would be harder than death or poverty or physical pain? I think it says a lot about the culture of medicine and that sometimes what we want is incredibly hard to achieve.

W: What is your greatest accomplishment?

E.A.: Smoke Signals was a kind of accomplishment, though I didn’t know it at the time. I was just trying to get it right. It wasn’t until much later that I realized a lot of things came together to make the final product special – and not reproducible.

W: What one goal remains out of reach?

E.A.: Well, I guess I’m never going to be the first (biological) man to ever get pregnant. I know this is weird, but I used to dream that I was pregnant. I would dream I was bathing in a river, and look down at my swollen, pregnant belly and be happy…

W: If you couldn’t do what you’re doing today, what would you be doing?

E.A.: If I wasn’t an actor or a doctor? I’d probably be in tourism! I know! I love to travel and visit other cultures. I studied French and Spanish for years with dreams of seeing the Americas… I still love anything Maori or Hawaiian or Polynesian.

W: What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

E.A.: “You’re going to be 40 one day anyway; might as well have a degree when you get there!”
W: Did you take it?

E.A.: Yup. In fact, I have a couple (a medical doctorate and a Masters of Public Health). But the arts are where I love to be. We should all have a very good general education and the opportunity to master a number of areas!

W: How do you hope to be remembered?

E.A.: That I did my best for decades… I don’t want to be remembered for the things I screwed up!

Dr. Evan Adams is known as a Canadian actor, playwright, and most recently co-host of this year’s National Aboriginal Achievement Awards broadcast. Adams began life on Nov. 15, 1966. He is Coast Salish from the Sliammon First Nation near Powell River in British Columbia. Awards such as the 1999 Best Debut performance in Smoke Signals and a Los Angeles Outfest award in 2002 for Fancydancing are just a couple of his accomplishments. He also appeared in a documentary called Just Watch Me: Trudeau and the 70’s Generation that spoke to his own experiences as a young gay First Nations man during the Trudeau era in Canada. More recently Adams was appointed the first Aboriginal Health Physician Advisor for the province of B.C and currently is the Director of the Division of Aboriginal Peoples’ Health, UBC Department of Family Practice and past-President of the Indigenous Physicians Association of Canada.

Confidential: Howie Miller

Howie Miller

August - 2010

Windspeaker: What one quality do you most value in a friend?
Howie Miller: Height. Someone with good height can reach things I cannot. They tend to be able to see further. Their shoes are really big so if I wanted to do a clown show, I’d have that option.

W: What is it that really makes you mad?
H.M.: When the TV listings are wrong. I make popcorn, get some sodas, clean the couch, call my friends, and then the show that I want to watch isn’t on. It’s usually my show “Caution May Contain Nuts” on APTN. What channel is that again?

W: When are you at your happiest?
H.M.: When I’m at home with my family and being on stage in front of a hot crowd. I don’t even have to be doing comedy, just standing there in front of a hot crowd.

W: What one word best describes you when you are at your worst?
H.M.: Washroom.

W: What one person do you most admire and why?
H.M.: Elvis, because he was the king.

W: What is the most difficult thing you’ve ever had to do?
H.M.: Try to come up with the one word that best describes me at my worst.

W: What is your greatest accomplishment?
H.M.: Having four perfect sons.

W: What one goal remains out of reach?
H.M.: Opening my own comedy club … IN SPACE!

W: If you couldn’t do what you’re doing today, what would you be doing?
H.M.: Well that’s hard, since I don’t do a lot as it is. I mean I work once or twice a week for about 45 minutes and get paid a ridiculous amount, so I guess I’d be a lawyer.

W: What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
H.M.: Insert Tab “A” into Slot “B”.

W: Did you take it?
H.M.: Always.

W: How do you hope to be remembered?
H.M.: I guess I’d like to be remembered as the guy who could always make you smile.  The guy you could rely on. If you needed a hug, Howie Miller was your guy. And since I’m not going anywhere for a while, I’d like to be remembered as the guy who opened up the first comedy club.... IN SPACE!

Howie Miller (Cree) has been called one of the funniest Native American comedians and actors on television today. Born and raised in Edmonton, his quick wit and unique point of view on multi-ethnic stereotypes has garnered numerous television appearances and placed him in great demand on the corporate circuit. Howie’s stand-up routine also includes entertaining stories about his son’s overnight success as one of the most-watched young actors in front of the camera today. How much better can it get than being Howie’s son, Tyson, playing “Quil Ateara”, a member of the wolf-pack in The Twilight Saga: New Moon and Eclipse?

Howie has performed across North America, including New York, Los Angeles and the prestigious Montreal Just for Laughs Comedy Festival.  He has also toured the United Kingdom and Europe. Howie has been featured in his own half-hour special Comedy Now Presents Howie Miller and in The Indian Comedy Slam, No Reservations Needed, which is currently airing on Showtime. Howie is also an accomplished actor and writer, having been nominated for a Gemini award in 2009 for “Best Writing in a Comedy or Variety Program” for Caution: May Contain Nuts which will be airing its second season on APTN in 2010.

Confidential: Inez Jasper

Inez Jasper

March - 2011

Windspeaker: What one quality do you most value in a friend?
Inez: Trustworthiness. It’s hard to come by these days, but I’ve been blessed with some good solid friends.

W: What is it that really makes you mad?
I.J.: Ignorance and racism. It makes my blood boil.

W: When are you at your happiest?
I.J.: It’s a toss up: Either when I’m getting a tickle attack from my son or rocking out onstage.

W: What one word best describes you when you are at your worst?
I.J.: Grumpy. I can’t lie. I can be a grumpy pants sometimes, but I’ve learned to see the silver lining.

W: What one person do you most admire and why?
I.J.: My mother. She’s hardworking and always makes time for everyone.

W: What is the most difficult thing you’ve ever had to do?
I.J.: The most difficult thing was the time I had to put on a happy face after hearing bad news from my home community while I was on the road. I wanted to curl up and cry but I knew that I had to keep moving and continue my journey. I had to make a positive out of a negative. That was a tough day.

W: What is your greatest accomplishment?
I.J.: My son. I have learned many lessons from him and he continues to be my most influential teacher to this day.

W: What one goal remains out of reach?
I.J.: I used to dream about being on TV and performing for thousands of cheering fans. It seemed like that dream was out of reach. Now that I’ve performed on live television that dream became a reality. Perhaps now, my crazy aspiration about crossing over into the mainstream music industry is not a goal that is out of reach. Hmmm.

W: If you couldn’t do what you’re doing today, what would you be doing?
I.J.: I would be starring in the Real Housewives of the Sto:lo Nation, running a youth group, children’s choir and making babies.

W: What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received? I.J.: Don’t work harder; work smarter.

W: Did you take it?
I.J.: Yep!

W: How do you hope to be remembered?
I.J.: Inez Jasper. She helped to pave the way for Aboriginal entertainers to be recognized for their work and inspired many people to pursue a career as a nurse.

Inez is a Sto:lo singer/songwriter with powerhouse talent and universal appeal. As one of Canada’s top Aboriginal musicians, her blend of traditional Native sounds with a love for contemporary hip hop and R&B brings the best of her culture to the mainstream world. Exploding onto the Canadian music scene in 2006 and releasing her hit album Singsoulgirl in 2008, this proud Sto:lo, Ojibway and Metis artist has been featured at myriad high profile events across the country, including 2009 Aboriginal People’s Choice Awards, 2009 Canadian Aboriginal Music Awards and 14 shows at the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver, not to mention feature spots on national television programs like Aboriginal Day Live! and The New Canoe. Despite all the attention, she maintains an endearing humility and commitment to inspiring youth.

This past year, Inez was recognized with three Canadian Aboriginal Music Award nominations, a Western Canadian Music Award nomination, a Juno nomination, and she took home four 2009 Aboriginal People’s Choice Awards! In 2010 she was nominated for two Aboriginal People’s Choice Awards and made a huge splash with her performance of her upcoming single Make You Mine.

Confidential: Jennie Williams

Jennie Williams

 Jennie Williams

 January - 2009

Windspeaker: What one quality do you most value in a friend?

Jennie Williams: A great friend is someone who will always be there for you even when they physically can’t. It’s a person who you can act your absolute true self around.

W: What is it that really makes you mad?

J.W.: I get upset when people use stereotypes in their every day lives and have no respect for the values and beliefs in other cultures but their own. People need to have an open mind and have respect for all people no matter who they are and where they come from.

W: When are you at your happiest?

J.W.: When I am speaking to a person or a group of people and I can tell by their response that I am making a positive impact on their lives by talking about the things I believe in and think are important in life.

W: What one word best describes you when you are at your worst?

J.W.: Hopelessness.

W: What one person do you most admire and why?

J.W.: It is not specifically one person I admire; it is the women I meet who overcome adversity and many obstacles in their lives and always stay strong and committed to staying positive no matter what comes their way.

W: What is the most difficult thing you’ve ever had to do?

J.W.: Live on my own at a very young age. I had to learn things quick. I had to grow up a lot quicker than people the same age as me at the time and sometimes it was not easy.

W: What is your greatest accomplishment?

J.W.: My greatest accomplishment so far would be receiving my award this year from the Governor General in Ottawa for being chosen as a National Aboriginal Role Model for 2008.

W: What one goal remains out of reach?

J.W.: My goal is to travel the world. This year I had the opportunity to travel to many places across Canada and also to Mexico and Guatemala. There are so many more places I want to go and I look forward to the many adventures in travelling that are to come.

W: If you couldn’t do what you’re doing today, what would you be doing?

J.W.: I would like to be sailing through the mountains of Northern Labrador.

W: What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

J.W.: Always listen to and remember advice you receive from your Elders.

W: Did you take it?

J.W.: I try my best every day of my life.

W: How do you hope to be remembered?

J.W.:  I hope to be remembered as someone who has made a positive impact on people’s lives. I hope to be remembered for my kindness, respect and commitment to keeping our culture alive for future generations with all that I can give.

Jennie Williams was born and raised in Labrador. She is currently residing in Nain, Nunatsiavut. She is an Inuit visual and performing artist committed to keeping her heritage and culture alive through the arts. She has traveled many times across Canada to perform and also to Mexico and Guatemala.

She uses different mediums to depict the traditional Inuit way of life including drum-dancing, throat-singing, painting, photography and traditional crafts; she also coordinates workshops to teach others.

Williams received the 2008 National Aboriginal Role Model Award from the National Aboriginal Health Organization (NAHO) for her achievements.

Confidential: Larissa Tobacco

Larissa Tobacco

January -  2008

Windspeaker: What one quality do you most value in a friend?
Larrissa Tobacco: I value above anything, honesty. I can count my true friends on one hand and what they all have in common is honesty.

W: What is it that really makes you mad?
L.T.: Ignorance really irks me, but hey, can’t win ‘em all, right?

W: When are you at your happiest?
L.T.: The very moment I walk out of an exam that I’ve just spent the last two weeks studying for and know that I’ve done well. Ah, redemption!

W: What one word best describes you when you are at your worst?
L.T.: Well you’d have to ask my mom ... probably miserable.

W: What one person do you most admire and why?
L.T.: My mom, ‘cause she puts up with me! ... I hope that I am only privileged enough in my lifetime to be as graceful, intelligent, independent, strong and loving as she is.

W: What is the most difficult thing you’ve ever had to do?
L.T.: Burying my daughter. After I did that, I thought to myself ... life can give me whatever it can ‘cause nothing could ever be as bad as that moment and that I could live life knowing that I’ve weathered the storm.

W: What is your greatest accomplishment?
L.T.: Honestly I think to date if the National Aboriginal Achievement Awards go off well-fingers crossed-then that will it be it.

W: What one goal remains out of reach?
L.T.: No goal is out of reach. Some goals I haven’t yet accomplished, but nothing is out of reach if you just believe in yourself and never give up.

W: If you couldn’t do what you’re doing today, what would you be doing?
L.T.: Honestly, I am very blessed to be doing everything I wanted to do in life. I promised myself a long time ago that I’d never look back on my life while on my death bed and think to myself, “I wonder what would’ve happened if I had done something else.” Instead I’ll look back and say, “Well, at least I tried, and damn, was it fun!”

W: What is the best piece of advice you’ve every received?
L.T.: One day when I was younger and being a brat-’cause I really was! - I came home to find all my dirty clothes cleaned with a note on top written by my mom saying, “Larissa, I’ve done this for you not because of how you’ve been treating people, but because I want to show you how to treat people. Love Mom.”

W: Did you take it?
L.T.: I’ll never forget that advice and still to this day, when someone is mean to me, I try to be extra nice to them. You’d be surprised how people react to that.

W: How do you hope to be remembered?
L.T.: As someone with the biggest heart in the world.

Twenty-two-year-old actor and student Larissa Tobacco is probably best known for her work as host of the APTN program Upload, and her time spent as a contestant in MuchMusic's 2006 VJ Search. In the New Year she'll be adding another entry to her resume, when she takes on the hosting duties for the 15th annual National Aboriginal Achievement Awards gala, to be held in Toronto on March 7. The gala event, which will see awards presented to 14 exceptional Aboriginal achievers, will air nationally on APTN and Global Television at a later date.

Confidential: Myron A. Lameman

Myron A. Lameman

 

Windspeaker: What one quality do you most value in a friend?
MAL: Integrity.

W: What is it that really makes you mad?
MAL: Feeling useless. It can be frustrating being in film, because sometimes I doubt myself if I don’t have the latest and greatest equipment. You just have to get over that and shoot something.

W: When are you at your happiest?
MAL: I’m happiest when I finish a film and complete that loop. Film can take a long time from concept to distribution, so I work on other projects as a cinematographer or editor. I’m healthy and happy as long as I’m busy and especially if I’m helping someone else.

W: What one word best describes you when you are at your worst?
MAL: Apathetic.

W: What one person do you most admire and why?
MAL: My wife. She is always encouraging and supporting others, including me, while accomplishing her own projects.

W: What is the most difficult thing you’ve ever had to do?
MAL: Putting myself out there has been difficult. I’m my own worst critic. This can be good during production if you use it to make the film better as long as it doesn’t get in the way, but when your film is done and out at festivals, you have to let it have its own life. You can never really know what other people will see in your work or where it will go.

W: What is your greatest accomplishment?
MAL: My son and soon-to-be-born daughter are the greatest gifts. They’ve taught me to be a kid again and just play.

W: What one goal remains out of reach?
MAL: I’m developing features that I hope to direct in the future. One way is to shoot a low budget indie feature on my own. Another is to master directing short films. It’s important to get more experience directing before expecting support (without having to hand the film over), but I’m confident that it will be within reach soon.

W: If you couldn’t do what you’re doing today, what would you be doing?
MAL: Right now I’m working in film, but I’m interested in web comics, animation, and video games. I’ve recently been inspired by writing for an animated series. I’d also like to design video games with Cree language and culture for my children.

W: What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
MAL: It’s important to be mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually balanced.

W: Did you take it?
MAL: It’s an ongoing process that I feel I’ve made improvements with thanks to support from friends and family.

W: How do you hope to be remembered?
MAL: As a good husband, dad, and artist who made some provocative stuff.

Myron A. Lameman comes from Beaver Lake Cree Nation in Alberta. He is a 2008 graduate of the Capilano University in North Vancouver, BC and during that time he was a part of the Indigenous Independent Digital Filmmaking and Advanced Cinematography program.

During his time there he created a seven-minute short film called Mihkoh and an additional 20-minute continuation called Nipiwin. Lameman said that Mihkoh and Nipiwin “speak strongly to the work I continue to pursue , films with political, social or cultural perspectives imagining alternative histories and futures of Indigenous people and the land.”

More recently Lameman has written, directed, edited and done the cinematography on Blue in the Face, a comedy short released in October 2010 dealing with the effect of a popular Hollywood film on one of its Native viewers. His newest documentary, released in 2011, is Extraction. It deals with the effects of oil extraction from the Alberta tar sands on his home reserve’s people, wildlife and land. He received funding support from the National Geographic’s All Roads Film Project.

Confidential: Robert Animikii Horton

Robert Animikii Horton

Robert Animikii Horton
November - 2008

Windspeaker: What one quality do you most value in a friend?

Robert Animikii Horton: Integrity. Integrity is everything.

W: What is it that really makes you mad?

R.A.H.: Honestly? When our young men do not respect our women. One cannot respect seven generations forward, or the future, if they cannot respect those who make each possible.

W: When are you at your happiest?

R.A.H.: I am at my happiest when I know I’ve helped, in some way, to create positive changes for our youth and communities. We’re standing within winds of change and this wind is at our backs. All it takes is a choice.

 

W: What one word best describes you when you are at your worst?

R.A.H.: Motivated. I find any sort of challenge a catalyst to motivate and to focus.

W: What one person do you most admire and why?

R.A.H.: The late Minnesota Senator Paul Wellstone. He was a man of vision and initiative – a  political organizer and activist who fought for social justice. I promised myself early on that these were the footsteps I would follow and this was the example I wanted to live for my own people.

W: What is the most difficult thing you’ve ever had to do?

R.A.H.: Probably move away from best friends and family to pursue my dreams.

W: What is your greatest accomplishment?

R.A.H.: Choosing education and political/community involvement over darker roads I began going down when I was younger. This choice, alone, probably saved my life.

W: What one goal remains out of reach?

R.A.H.: My Ph.D. But it is only out of reach for the time being.

W: If you couldn’t do what you’re doing today, what would you be doing?

R.A.H.: I would probably continue learning my language (Anishinaabemowin) and decide to be a language instructor.

W: What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

R.A.H.: Never separate the life you live from the words you speak.

W: Did you take it?

R.A.H.: Absolutely! And I live it everyday.

W: How do you hope to be remembered?

R.A.H.: I hope to be remembered as an activist, first and foremost, who lived with integrity, conviction, and vision; someone who always put the well being of his People as priority and never strayed from this. I want to leave a legacy.

Robert (Bebaamweyaazh) Animikii Horton, 26, is Anishinaabe (Marten Clan) from Rainy River First Nations, Manitou Rapids Ontario. He is one of twelve exceptional young people chosen to be National Aboriginal Role Models in a program sponsored by the National Aboriginal Health Organization (NAHO). The scholar, activist and future leader is completing his Master’s degree in Sociology and has recently developed a First Nation Student Support Education Framework called The Gakino Amawaagan Support Wheel. Horton is a sociologist, scholar and political activist, internationally recognized orator, published writer, polemicist, and spoken-word poet. Horton has received the 2008 "Heroes of our Time" Awards from the Assembly of First Nations, Honourary Lifetime Induction to Alpha Kappa Delta (International Honors Society for Sociologists), and recently was the recipient of statements of commendation for activism, First Nation leadership, and youth advocacy from P.C. Members of Parliament, the Hon. Joe Comuzzi and the Hon. Tony Clement.

Horton says, “It’s more than possible to have strong roots and strong wings – be the change you wish to see. Defy convention. Hope, dream, imagine and inspire!”

Caption for photo: Robert stands near Kay-nah-chi-wah-nung (Long Sault Rapids), an area along the Rainy River featuring the largest concentration of traditional burial mounds in Canada. Horton’s family, along with many others, were forced to move from Long Sault to Manitou Rapids in 1914 and 1915, breaking the agreements of Treaty #3, which Robert’s ancestor, Chief Mawedopenais, helped negotiate in 1873.

Caption for photo: Robert stands near Kaynahchiwahnung (Long Sault Rapids), an area along the Rainy River featuring the largest concentration of traditional burial mounds in Canada. Horton’s family, along with many others, were forced to move from Rainy River to Manitou Rapids in 1914 and 1915, breaking the agreements of Treaty #3, which Robert’s ancestor, Chief Mawedopenais, negotiated in 1873.

Confidential: Robyn Goodwin

Robyn Goodwin

Robyn Goodwin

June 2009

Windspeaker: What one quality do you most value in a friend?

Robyn Goodwin: The quality I value most in a friend is trust. I believe, in this day and age, for young women you have to be strong and have a firm belief in humanity to be able to possess this quality. I also think that trust works both ways and that you also have to be trustworthy.

W: What is it that really makes you mad?

R.G.: Failure. To leave something unaccomplished or unfinished always leaves a void and raises the question, what if?

W: When are you at your happiest?

R.G.: Playing hockey. It’s what I love doing. All the stress of life and impending difficulties vanish while I’m on the ice.

W: What word best describes you when you’re at your worst?

R.G.: Irritable.

W: What one person do you most admire and why?

R.G.: My dad. He tries to show us the right way by letting us know the wrong paths he took as a young person, but he never forces us to do it his way. He tells us that through hard work and determination you can be what you want to be. Never be content with your present situation.

W:  What is the most difficult thing you’ve ever had to do?

R.G.: Moving to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in the United States as a 17-year-old. I had to leave my family, friends and Canada to pursue a university education and continue my hockey career.

W: What is your greatest accomplishment?

R.G.: Attending university and playing hockey in the United States.

W: What one goal remains out of reach?

R.G.: Getting a job that includes the sport of hockey in which I would be able to apply myself completely; and in that job I’d like to also be able to help youth.

W: If you couldn’t do what you’re doing today, what would you be doing?

R.G.: I would definitely be involved in community sports programming for youth.

W: What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

R.G.:  Just to enjoy and have fun in what you are experiencing today. Enjoy life and what it is presenting to you now.

W: Did you take it?

R.G.: Yes.

W: How do you hope to be remembered?

R.G.: Hopefully as someone who took the time to use her talents in hockey and who tried to help those who are in need. Also someone who was competitive and determined.

 

Robyn Lee-Anne Goodwin was born on Oct. 4, 1989 in Winnipeg, Man. She is the youngest child of the family and has two older brothers. No wonder she started playing hockey on an outdoor rink near her house. She was always the only girl skating with the guys. Her days would consist of going to school and then heading straight to the rink to play hockey until the rink was shut down. Her parents would have to come and get her and her brothers, or they would play on even after the lights were turned off. When she wasn’t skating she was at her brothers’ hockey games. At one game Robyn noticed a girls’ team getting ready to hit the ice and she decided she wanted to be one of them. At the age of 10, she began playing organized hockey, and at 16 she was selected to represent Manitoba at the National Aboriginal Hockey Championships. Her team took the bronze medal, a first for a female team in Manitoba. Robyn loved the experience and continued to represent Manitoba for two more years.

After graduating from high school in 2007 she attended university in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. While attending secondary school, she continued to play hockey at the university level, and it was while she was there that she received news that one of her former coaches had passed away from cancer. When she returned from university she wanted to do something special and unique in memory of her coach, so she spearheaded “Play for the Cure 2008,” a women’s only hockey tournament that raises funds for Cancer Care Manitoba. As Robyn says: “Losing a friend is always hard so to be able to use your talents and have so many other players believe in the cause you’re standing up for makes the loss a little less painful. It’s great to try and make a difference. This year the tournament is back and the work in organizing it is worthwhile if we can help at least one person beat this disease.”

Confidential: Stephen Kakfwi

 

Stephen Kakfwi

Stephen Kakfwi

February - 2009

Windspeaker: What one quality do you most value in a friend?

Stephen Kakfwi: I really appreciate a friend who has a positive attitude.

W: What is it that really makes you mad?

S.K.: Bullies who wear suits who pretend that they like themselves.

W: When are you at your happiest?

S.K.: When I’m alone with my wife, my children, and my grandchildren.

W: What one word best describes you when you are at your worst?

S.K.: Sullen and dark.

W: What one person do you most admire and why?

S.K.: My grandfather. He was unilingual, never went to school or ever spoke English, but was a successful trapper and hunter who started and owned his own fur trading business and general store.

W: What is the most difficult thing you’ve ever had to do?

S.K.: Learn how to forgive.

W: What is your greatest accomplishment?

S.K.: Being more at peace with myself.

W: What one goal remains out of reach?

S.K.: Though, as I said in my last answer, I have found more peace within myself, I still don’t have the kind of inner peace – that pure tranquility – that many Elders become blessed with at advanced stages in their lives. I’m getting there, but I’m definitely not there yet.

W: If you couldn’t do what you’re doing today, what would you be doing?

S.K.: Writing a book of poems and stories.

W: What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

S.K.: Don’t wish or pray for what you don’t need. Everything you need is there. You just have to learn how to see it. This came from my grandfather in a dream.

W: Did you take it?

S.K.: Yes.

W: How do you hope to be remembered?

S.K.: As a man of a few little gifts who saw opportunities and seized them in the moment.

A former premier of the Northwest Territories, Stephen Kakfwi quit more than 25 years of politics in 2003 to realize his lifelong dream of writing and performing music. Born in a traditional Dene bush camp on Yelta Lake near Fort Good Hope, Kakfwi spent his early years on the land, learning the customs of his people and developing a life-long respect for the wilderness and its resources.

He survived residential school and went on to pursue a teaching degree, but returned home to become involved in securing Aboriginal land and self-government rights. He organized Dene, Métis, and southern support groups to respond to increased oil and gas exploration in the north. Aboriginal involvement in the Mackenzie Valley natural gas pipeline inquiry resulted in Justice Tom Berger recommending a moratorium on development until land claims were settled and measures were in place to protect the fragile Mackenzie Valley and Beaufort Sea environment. The ruling became a model for the future regulation of mega-projects in Canada.

Between 1983 and 1987, Kakfwi headed up the Dene Nation, and was elected to represent the Sahtu constituency of the Great Bear Lake region, and then acted as N.W.T. premier between 2000 and 2003.

Kakfwi quit politics abruptly, saying his life had become a battleground. When he took some time to work on himself and heal old hurts, many stemming from his childhood in residential school, words to songs began pouring out of him and he put guitar music to them. To date, he’s released two CD’s:

In the Walls of His Mind and Last Chance Hotel.

Kakfwi continues to be active regarding a variety of initiatives, including the promotion of conservation in the N.W.T. and as an advisor to the World Wildlife Foundation. He’s also working with his home community, government and other organizations to ensure benefits and revenue from the development of a newly proposed Mackenzie Valley pipeline. He’s also a sought-after public speaker

Confidential: Suzette Amaya

Suzette Amaya

Suzette Amaya

March - 2009

Windspeaker: What one quality do you most value in a friend?

Suzette Amaya: In a friend I value honesty. I believe someone who is honest with themselves and others is someone I can truly feel free to be myself with and share wonderful interactions with. Being true to oneself is a great quality and opens you up to self discovery.

W: What is it that really makes you mad?

S.A.: Lateral violence. I am not an angry kind of person, but it upsets me that lateral violence is ever-present in our communities. So many more people could be leaders, and successful, but lateral violence can harm a person’s soul, dignity, and self-esteem, and is a terrible disease that breeds negativity and unhealthy behavior.

W: When are you at your happiest?

S.A.: I am at my happiest just being home with my family: My sons Julian and Josiah and my husband Stanley. If I can’t be at home, then a wonderful walk around a lake, feeding ducks, or bike riding makes me happy. Enjoying the simple pleasures. And I must say soccer practice with the North Shore Renegades, my soccer team in the Metro Vancouver Women’s League, that’s some good Soul Food as well.

W: What one word best describes you when you are at your worst?

S.A.: Tired. After working a double shift at my regular job as a Shelter Support Worker in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver, I am at my most non-glam, emotionally drained, and non-creative mode.

W: What one person do you most admire and why?

S.A. I admire Elaine Bomberry. She is inspiring, other than Oprah and my BFF my Mom! Elaine is definitely one of my mentors. She is the queen of networking and getting the job done. Her passion for Aboriginal media and arts (Google Murray Porter and Rez Blues and the Junos) excites me! She is a professional and a leader in the industry! My mom is also, of course, on the top of all lists. She is a survivor and the kindest, most loving person I know. She is a drug and alcohol counsellor and is so multi-talented. Her humble, kind, non-judgemental personality has carved who I am today. I definitely aspire to be just like her!

W: What is the most difficult thing you’ve ever had to do?

S.A.: The most difficult thing I have ever had to do was Psychology 300 stats in college and maybe that log rolling contest I did in Kyuquot! But on a serious note, a challenge was facing my abuser when I was in high school and taking him to court and charging him for abuse. It was a new beginning and an end; I was reborn the day I allowed myself to heal and I pat myself on the back for having the courage to not allow myself to be controlled by my negative experiences.

W: What is your greatest accomplishment?

S.A.: My children. My sons are such angels. Being a mother is my ultimate priority–just working, never sleeping and ensuring their routine and life needs are met is my greatest accomplishment. I pray that they will also be successful leaders with kind loving hearts! I have other monumental accomplishments I must say I am proud of, like creating ThinkNDN (Best Aboriginal Radio Show at the Aboriginal Peoples Choices Awards 2008) and becoming a National Aboriginal Role Model for Canada in 2007.

W: What one goal remains out of reach?

S.A.: Out of reach? Never! I would love to get into television and become like the Native Oprah without the money and all–just something to share others’ talents, share their stories and provide Canada with a quality show of Aboriginal pop culture!

W: If you couldn’t do what you’re doing today, what would you be doing?

S.A.: I would love to eventually go into law. I could be a student forever! My educational background is criminology, so law school has always been something that interests me, or running my band, GwaSala-Nakwaxda’xw Nation.

W: What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

S.A.: Love one another and pray, pray, pray! I live by faith alone and truly “let God and let go! Also, love your enemies.

W: Did you take it?

S.A.: Yes! I love, love, love! Who are we to judge and not love others? There are times when I have to let God fight my battles and so I truly believe that we reap what we sow!

W: How do you hope to be remembered?

S.A.: I would like to be remembered as that girl people felt comfortable with and who made a positive impact in some way ... or, well, as that “ThinkNDN” girl; that works for me too!

Suzette Amaya is on her way to becoming the Aboriginal Oprah. Her love of media has led her to create ThinkNDN, a radio show, and SAMAYA photography. She is a motivational speaker who has just begun her Love, Live, Lead Tour 2009 across Canada, speaking to youth about everything from sexual abuse to employment strategies. She is in the music industry, but also reaches out to people as a Shelter Support Worker in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver.

Confidential: Trevor Duplessis

 

Trevor Duplessis

Trevor Duplessis

April - 2009

Windspeaker: What one quality do you most value in a friend?

Trevor Duplessis: Patience. My wife Amelia could tell you that you need a lot of this.

W: What is it that really makes you mad?

T.D.: People who hurt or take advantage of those who can’t defend or speak up for themselves.

W: When are you at your happiest?

T.D.: Either when I come home and my kids smile at me or when I’m back stage before a show, and the stage is out there, quietly waiting for me.

W: What one word best describes you when you are at your worst?

T.D.: Scattered

W: What one person do you most admire and why?

T.D.: My mother’s sense of family and undying commitment knows no bounds. I intend to let her example flow through me to my children.

W: What is the most difficult thing you’ve ever had to do?

T.D.: I had to leave my family for five weeks to tour In a World Created by a Drunken God. I spent three weeks in Ontario before flying to Europe for two more weeks. I remember getting on the plane, thinking ‘I can’t believe I’m actually getting on a plane to go further away from my family!’ Amelia kept emailing me pictures of our girls to help keep me sane, and they grew and changed on me every week.

W: What is your greatest accomplishment?

T.D.: Getting the Best Actor Award for the Drunken God film in San Francisco was pretty big for me. I’ve spent 10 years in Edmonton doing some really good theatre, but I’ve been mostly overlooked by the professional companies and bigger film projects. To get acknowledgement from people in other countries and Canadian cities made me realize that the ‘powers that be’ in the Edmonton arts scene might not be the experts I once thought they were.

W: What one goal remains out of reach?

T.D.: I write crime fiction. To get published and put one of my books on my shelf between Raymond Chandler and Loren D. Estleman would be a dream come true.

W: If you couldn’t do what you’re doing today, what would you be doing?

T.D.: I have a teaching background, so I’d probably be teaching high school somewhere.

W: What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

T.D.: It’s from my dad, Roland. He tells me every couple of years: Life is short.

You only get one of them. Go after your goal with complete commitment, and the journey towards it often ends up being where the important stuff really is.

W: Did you take it?

T.D.: Every day. And, yes, I’ve thanked him.

W: How do you hope to be remembered?

T.D.: That I was a dream chaser, but family came first. That I worked very hard, though not always smart. That I had a couple of gifts that I couldn’t quite explain, but was very, very thankful for.

Trevor Duplessis is a Métis actor and teacher who has Education and Fine Arts in Acting degrees from the University of Alberta. His favorite stage shows over the years include Glengarry Glenn Ross, Jesus Christ Superstar, Macbeth, and Running: The Alex Decoteau Story. He recently toured to Calgary, Ontario, San Francisco and Eastern Europe for the stage and Pyramid Productions/APTN film versions of Drew Hayden Taylor’s In a World Created by a Drunken God. He received the Best Actor Award at the American Indian Film Festival in San Francisco for the film last year. Trevor is a program coordinator and drama instructor at Yellowhead Tribal College in Edmonton, where he lives with his wife Amelia and daughters Halina and Adelaide.

To find out more about his theatre work, you can Google his name or type Trevor Duplessis on You Tube to see excerpts of his performance in Drunken God.