Home Editorial An award for all to share

An award for all to share

Megan Kanerahtenha:wi Whyte The Eastern Door

Lily Gladstone said she was representing everyone across Indian Country when she won the Golden Globe for her role as Mollie Burkhart in Killers of the Flower Moon.

And we must say, it has been a long time coming – our actors, especially our women, being recognized by the mainstream.

It’s fitting for us as Kanien’kehá:ka because our women are our leaders, and here she is, the first in what we know will be a long line of many amazing thespians honoured in the most public way.

Kahnawake is a microcosm of the Native film industry, a kind of cottage industry that has popped up over the past 20 years, many of whom not only inspired more to come after them, but who have become pretty famous names, brought famous lines into our homes, and have faces that are instantly recognizable to so many people outside our little town.

Gladstone’s success will no doubt become a powerful call for that kid who never had anyone to look up to, who never had anyone believe in them, or who, upon hearing her speak Blackfoot on stage after winning, aspire to do the same with Kanien’kéha.

She’s a role model, a trailblazer, and she’s inspiring as heck, as they say in Six Nations.

Hollywood is tough for anyone of any background, but for someone who comes from our communities to make it to such a high honour, well the only thing left is (fingers crossed) an Oscar.

In a time when our collective minds were blown with the Fifth Estate investigation showing Buffy Ste. Marie as, well, not exactly one of us, we needed this.

Buffy had her reasons to do what she did and we were utterly disappointed and so angry when it came out she was of Italian descent, and had faked her identity, but we have moved on from that small chapter of our overall book of hits and misses, of successes and trials and tribulations.

She’s an ally, sure, but she lied. And we can’t forgive that.

Because that’s what it is, this life as an Onkwehón:we in 2024 – a book full of stories, full of ups and downs, full of some big time wins and some heartbreaking losses.

But at the end of the day, we always have hope; we always dream of the days we will be on that stage; we continue to look up to people with such amazing success, and we are all definitely in need of a good story.

The reality is, we have the talent, especially here in Kahnawake. There are so many artists of different kinds, and we have some of the best actors and actresses, filmmakers, and directors around, so it isn’t a surprise when we win, say, best picture in Canada, or best documentary, because our talent runs deep and our passion to tell our stories is very powerful.

Lily Gladstone told her own story with her performance, but she honoured all of our stories with her words after, the fame she now has, and what will come of her burgeoning and oh so bright career.

This wasn’t a moment like Sacheen Littlefeather (who has also, like Buffy, been accused of being a pretendian) refusing Marlon Brando’s Oscar back in 1973, because this one was even more powerful.

It was an Onkwehón:we woman winning, and standing up there saying “I will accept this because I worked hard, and I won it for all of you to enjoy.”

That kind of selflessness and hopeful talk of the future bodes well, and as we continue to honour the arts locally and internationally, we are always fanboying and fangirling for the next big win.

Gladstone herself said it best:

“This is for every little rez kid, every little urban kid, every little Native kid out there who has a dream,” she said, “who is seeing themselves represented and our stories told – by ourselves, in our own words – with tremendous allies and tremendous trust from and with each other.”

This editorial was originally published in print on January 12, in issue 33.02 of The Eastern Door.

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Eastern Door Editor/Publisher Steve Bonspiel started his journalism career in January 2003 with The Nation magazine, a newspaper serving the Cree of northern Quebec.
Since that time, he has won numerous regional and national awards for his in-depth, impassioned writing on a wide variety of subjects, including investigative pieces, features, editorials, columns, sports, human interest and hard news.
He has freelanced for the Montreal Gazette, Toronto Star, Windspeaker, Nunatsiaq News, Calgary Herald, Native Peoples Magazine, and other publications.
Among Steve's many awards is the Paul Dumont-Frenette Award for journalist of the year with the Quebec Community Newspapers Association in 2015, and a back-to-back win in 2010/11 in the Canadian Association of Journalists' community category - one of which also garnered TED a short-list selection of the prestigious Michener award.
He was also Quebec Community Newspapers Association president from 2012 to 2019, and continues to strive to build bridges between Native and non-Native communities for a better understanding of each other.

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Eastern Door Editor/Publisher Steve Bonspiel started his journalism career in January 2003 with The Nation magazine, a newspaper serving the Cree of northern Quebec. Since that time, he has won numerous regional and national awards for his in-depth, impassioned writing on a wide variety of subjects, including investigative pieces, features, editorials, columns, sports, human interest and hard news. He has freelanced for the Montreal Gazette, Toronto Star, Windspeaker, Nunatsiaq News, Calgary Herald, Native Peoples Magazine, and other publications. Among Steve's many awards is the Paul Dumont-Frenette Award for journalist of the year with the Quebec Community Newspapers Association in 2015, and a back-to-back win in 2010/11 in the Canadian Association of Journalists' community category - one of which also garnered TED a short-list selection of the prestigious Michener award. He was also Quebec Community Newspapers Association president from 2012 to 2019, and continues to strive to build bridges between Native and non-Native communities for a better understanding of each other.