Rosanna Deerchild reflects on reclaiming 150 years of Indigenous history through podcast This Place
The writer and broadcaster talks to Faith Fundal about the new podcast This Place
Rosanna Deerchild is an author, poet and the host of This Place, a CBC podcast series based on the graphic novel anthology of the same name. It takes listeners on a journey through 150 years of history told through an Indigenous lens.
For those who may not be familiar with the graphic novel, what is it about?
This Place is the graphic novel that was published by Highwater Press back in 2019. They invited 11 Indigenous creators to pair with illustrators. They created beautifully illustrated stories about our Indigenous heroes, battles, triumphs and resistance.
We were able to take this beautiful book and turn it into an exciting and amazing podcast, which we are calling our reclamation of oral storytelling.
The first episode, Annie of Red River, is about Annie Bannatyne and her connection to Louis Riel. I wonder how Annie Bannatyne's life was so noteworthy?
Annie Bannatyne was born and raised in Red River, which now is the Winnipeg Exchange District but back then was completely Métis territory.
Bannatyne was a business owner and she was very community involved and very much dedicated to the Métis way of life. She was not the kind of woman to mess with.
We were able to take this beautiful book and turn it into an exciting and amazing podcast.
When Charles Mair came to town and then made a very disparaging opinion piece in the Toronto Daily Globe, Annie Bannatyne was not having it. She got very angry, she grabbed him out into the street and horse-whipped him.
What happened was that Louis Riel had witnessed it, and he was inspired to write a letter of his own criticizing Mair's remarks. And of course he became a resistance leader and historically recognized as the father of Manitoba.
Why is it important for the audience to see the stories through an Indigenous lens?
It's not so much a retelling as it is reclaiming. These are stories that many Canadians have not heard before or are not familiar with — maybe even many Indigenous people.
It's important for people to know that side of the story to understand that Indigenous people were here before Canada, and will be here long after Canada.
But these are stories that we've told in our family, told in our communities and in our nation about what we are as a people, who we are as a people and where we come from. It's important for people to know that side of the story to understand that Indigenous people were here before Canada, and will be here long after Canada.
It's important that our children see themselves reflected in these stories; hear about their heroes, battles and triumphs; and are taught these histories in school.
Thursday, July 1, marks Canada Day. In light of the recent discoveries of unmarked graves at residential schools, what's going through your mind?
I certainly don't begrudge people for their celebrations. I understand that there's a lot of pride in being Canadian. I myself don't celebrate Canada Day as a Cree Indigenous woman.
What I would ask Canadians to do is to reflect on what we are uncovering in Kamloops, what we are uncovering in Marieval, what we are still to uncover all across this country — and that's a genocide. Canada and the church that ran those schools are guilty of a genocide.
We need to know that, reflect on it and understand that First Nations people in this country are traumatized by this news. They are grieving. I would ask people who celebrate to do it with some compassion, gentleness and understanding.
How are you doing?
I am absolutely heartbroken at the news.
These are stories that I've heard from my own mother. These are difficult stories. They're difficult to even talk about now. I fully expect that we'll find more horrors that have been hidden.
We have resisted for hundreds of years and we're going to resist for thousands more.
I hold all my Indigenous people in my thoughts and in my heart, knowing that we're going to go through this together and we're going to make it through. We have resisted for hundreds of years and we're going to resist for thousands more.
This conversation has been edited for length and clarity.