Indigenous winners of 2022 Canadian Screen Awards reflect on victories and a changing industry

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Indigenous winners of 2022 Canadian Screen Awards reflect on victories and a changing industry's Profile


Indigenous creators are reflecting on their accomplishments and on representation in the film industry after taking home several awards from the 2022 Canadian Screen Awards.

The CSAs took place virtually from April 4-10.

Kaniehtiio Horn won best supporting actress in a comedy for her role in the TV series Letterkenny, which is about a small rural town and the characters who live in it. 

Horn, who is Kanien’kehá:ka (Mohawk) from Kahnawake, near Montreal, said Indigenous representation within the film industry has been growing and so has the acknowledgement of that work. 

Kaniehtiio Horn won best supporting actress in a comedy for her role in the TV series Letterkenny. (Kaniehtiio Horn)

“What encourages me about where we are now, is that society cannot take this away; we can’t go backwards, there is only going forward with this. We just have to keep the momentum up,” said Horn. 

“There used to be one or two of us at the awards back in the day, and now there are so many.”

Horn said she wasn’t expecting to win. When she was announced as the winner in her category, she was breastfeeding her son and had to stop to deliver her acceptance speech. 

“I will say it’s a bummer I didn’t get to wear a pretty dress, but I got to be in a hoodie with my son at home and that is actually just as awesome,” she said. 

Horn said she still wants to see more Indigenous people in the industry in all positions, like editing, casting, sound engineering, set design, key wardrobe, and hair and makeup.

“Inherently we are all storytellers,” she said.

“It is a part of who we are and there are so many positions to be filled by our people to bring these stories to life in an authentic way.”

For emerging Anishinaabe/Algonquin actor Joshua Odjik, just receiving a nomination came as a surprise. 

So when his name was announced during the virtual ceremony as the winner for performance by an actor in a supporting role for his role in the film Wildhood, he dropped his laptop.

“It was quite a wild 30 seconds of my life,” he said. 

“I’m still trying to come to terms with everything.” 

Odjik, a member of Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg, north of Ottawa, performs as the character Pasamay. 

Wildhood is a story about Link, who leaves home with his half-brother after being abused by their father. He finds out that his Mi’kmaw mother might be alive and sets out to find her. Along the way the brothers meet two-spirit fancy dancer Pasamay, who develops a romantic relationship with Link. 

‘Isn’t just a cultural wave’ 

Ojibway actress Tamara Podemski, known for her performances in Dance Me Outside and The Rez, won best supporting actress in a drama series for her role in Coroner. 

“It’s just very overwhelming to be in this moment where so many of us are being celebrated for our work,” she said. 

Podemski said the foundation for success has been getting built for decades. 

“This isn’t just a cultural wave happening,” she said. 

“I’m so happy it’s happening at this time of my life when I’m older and wiser and more grounded.”

Podemski said she hopes the younger generation coming into the industry recognizes there is still a path that needs to be walked. 

“We still need to understand that this space is an ever-evolving state,” she said. 

“I don’t think it’s a time to sit down and just celebrate this amazing time that the work still needs to continue.”

Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers won performance by an actress in a leading role in Danis Goulet’s Night Raiders. (Elevation Pictures)

Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers, a member of Kainai First Nation in Alberta, took home a couple of CSAs this year, including one for performance by an actress in a leading role in Danis Goulet’s apocalyptic thriller Night Raiders. The film won five awards in total. 

Tailfeathers also received the Ted Rogers best feature length documentary award for Kímmapiiyipitssini: The Meaning of Empathy, which looks at how Kainai First Nation is struggling with the opioid epidemic.

“I would say that my generation of filmmakers is standing on this on the shoulders of giants,” she said.

“There were so many filmmakers ahead of me who laid the groundwork for me to be able to do what I do and I don’t for a moment take that work for granted.”

Tailfeathers said the success of Indigenous artists this year at the CSAs demonstrates that previous underrepresentation was not about a lack of talent but a lack of opportunity.

“I am really proud to be an Indigenous storyteller at this moment, it feels really special,” she said.

“I feel like I’m part of something bigger than myself.”



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