Show to depict realities of reserve life

Blog, Aboriginal Futures, Joseph Quesnel

A new made-in-Edmonton TV series called Blackstone is making waves. 

The new TV drama depicts corruption and crime on a First Nation reserve. Already, it is expected the show will broadcast on the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (APTN) and Showcase TV.

The show is being criticized for perpetuating stereotypes about First Nation reserves. However, even one of the main characters,  Gordon Tootoosis, who plays elder Cecil Delaronde in the series said: “But we can’t be sweeping things under the rug like this. One of these days we’re going to trip over it.”

Many would agree the series accurately depicts life on many reserves. However, the show has a silver lining as it is based on hope for change. One of the characters is a band councillor deserved to improve conditions. Executive Producer Ron Scott said: “At the heart of Blackstone, there’s a message of taking responsibility for your life.”

It is interesting given the recent publication of Bad Medicine: A Judge’s Struggle for Justice in a First Nation Community by Judge John Reilly. This book depicts all of the dysfunctional behaviour and political corruption on an Alberta First Nation. Reilly cared so much about these issues he ordered a judicial inquiry into reserve conditions.

These issues need to be dealt with and won’t go away. It is good to see these issues presented in these creative ways.