Edmonton Métis filmmaker off to Sesame Street workshop in New York
'We’ve been working really really hard and I grew up with Sesame Street'
How do you get to Sesame Street?
An Edmonton-based Métis filmmaker is on the iconic children's show's radar and he's hoping a summit in New York City on Monday with some of the show's creators will be his ticket.
"We've been working really, really hard and I grew up with Sesame Street," said Daniel Foreman, creative director of Treaty 6 Productions, in an interview on CBC Edmonton's Radio Active on Thursday. "I would love to be with Cookie Monster. Well, Cookie Monster and [Oscar] the Grouch. The Grouch always made me laugh."
Foreman's animated Legendary Myths series, which aimed to go across Canada and throughout the Americas teaching about the different Indigenous nations' cultures, languages, foods and stories, is similar to Sesame Street's approach to children's programming, said Foreman.
"I think as long as you're teaching in an entertaining way and you're not talking down to kids, you're talking to them and making them laugh and have fun while they're doing it … that's kind of been our philosophy," he said.
Legendary Myths Season One: Raven Adventures is being screened at K-Days, over the Edmonton summer festival's Indigenous Showcase, Monday and Tuesday at the Expo Centre.
The opportunity to bring traditional Indigenous education to a mainstream children's audience is important to Foreman.
"I believe that technology is a really good thing but it is a double-edged sword," he said. "If we're not careful, we're going to lose tradition and history. This is a really interesting way to give something that endures, also in a way that people will pay attention."
The workshop, for Indigenous American writers, is part of a number of initiatives to create more content as Sesame Street celebrates its 50th anniversary.
"Our mission to help kids everywhere grow smarter, stronger, and kinder knows no geographic boundaries," Jeffrey D. Dunn, executive director of Sesame Workshop, said in a statement. Sesame Workshop is the non-profit behind Sesame Street.
"We're everywhere families are and we never stop innovating and growing," Dunn said. "That's what keeps us timeless."
Foreman thinks characters such as Raven the trickster, the protagonist of his first season, would be a good fit on Sesame Street.
"He's just a funny guy who's you know a little bit of a trickster and causing trouble with some of the other characters but doing it in a very good-hearted way."
Legendary Myths won awards at the American Indian Film Institute in San Francisco, best animation at the Red Nation Film Festival in Los Angeles, and was selected for film festivals in Ontario, across the United States, and in the United Kingdom.
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The accolades drew the attention of the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian, which has ties with Sesame Workshop.
Foreman, who only discovered his Métis heritage as an adult in 2008, has been dabbling in filmmaking since the 1990s.
He made his foray into Indigenous storytelling after he found a book called Raven Steals the Light that had been left behind in his laundry room. He travelled to Haida Gwaii, B.C., to research the famous myth with the artist of the book and elders on the islands.
He is hoping connections made at the workshop in New York will lead to his second season, featuring Alberta Cree mythological trickster Wisakedjak (pronounced Wee-saw-kee-jack), being co-produced with Sesame.