Edmonton

Edmonton Mé​​​​​​​tis filmmaker off to Sesame Street workshop in New York

An Edmonton-based Mé​​​​​​​tis filmmaker is on the iconic children's show's radar.

'We’ve been working really really hard and I grew up with Sesame Street'

Daniel Foreman was invited to participate in a Sesame workshop at the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian on July 22. (Thandiwe Konguavi/CBC)

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."

How to get to Sesame Street. Edmonton filmmaker Daniel Foreman is off to New York City for a Sesame Street crash course. 6:29

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.

Mainstream audience

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."

A screenshot of Raven Adventures, part of a series by Edmonton-based Treaty 6 Productions which got the attention of Sesame Street producers. (Treaty 6 Productions/YouTube)

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. 

The accolades drew the attention of the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian, which has ties with Sesame Workshop.

Métis heritage

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.

About the Author

Thandiwe Konguavi is an award-winning journalist, born in Zimbabwe. She is an associate producer and reporter at CBC Edmonton. Reach her at thandiwe.konguavi@cbc.ca or on Twitter @TandiwayK (https://twitter.com/TandiwayK).

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.