From left, BTPS-Sandra Bares, BTPS-Mabyn Grinde, Lakeland College-Clint Chocan, and Learning Network Educational Services-Dan Nash at one of the ‘Indian Horse’ screenings in Vermilion on June 19. Photo Angela Mouly
Lakeland College hosted two screenings of the film, ‘Indian Horse,’ on June 19, in Vermilion as part of their reconciliation speaker series.
Applause filled the Alumni Theatre as it was announced that Tristen Marty-Pahtaykan from Frog Lake First Nation played a role in the film.
Marty-Pahtaykan played Buddy Black Wolf, who he said was the enforcer for the Moose Hockey Team and the joker and protector of the main character, Saul.
“Buddy Black Wolf was the tough guy; like Dave Brown from the Edmonton Oilers. The character and I had similarities when it came to working together as a team. When he was on the ice with his teammates - that is the kind of attitude I have with my brother’s Samuel & Ricky Marty Jr. When we first started up our acting careers as The Marty Brothers, it was teamwork; no one was jealous of the other brother when we auditioned for the same role. We love working together, brotherhood, Warriors!” said Marty-Pahtaykan.
Several students from Kitscoty, J.R. Robson, and Frog Lake gathered with community members to watch the heavy film. Vivid imagery told the story of life in a residential school, and the film touched on spiritual beliefs, loss, survival, confinement, racism, and healing.
Clint Chocan, Lakeland College Manager of Indigenous Support Services, thanked everyone for coming and Buffalo Trail Public Schools and the Learning Network for their collaboration.
“’Indian Horse’ is a fictional story but is based on the real-life occurrences of thousands of Indigenous people. Indigenous people are not looking for sympathy, but for empathy and understanding. It is not meant to shame anyone, but to provide education,” said Chocan, who explained that the depiction of a culture had been severely misrepresented for many years.
Tristen Marty-Pahtaykan acting in the film, ‘Indian Horse.’ Photo submitted
Marty-Pahtaykan said that being part of a film that represents so many real struggles was a challenge, but was also worthwhile.
“It was a challenge to re-live the same experiences that my grandfather, “Smoking” Joe Pahtaykan, went through growing up. It was tough, not only for my grandfather but for many others out there. It affected generations and generations of Indigenous people. To see the actual abuse that took place we had to take the audience there, to understand what it has done to the Indigenous people of Turtle Island, (also known as Canada to all Indigenous People across the board). I also want to add that not only Indigenous people are struggling, but also non-indigenous people who have experienced trauma growing up in other similar situations, and in the history of assimilations toward human beings,” said Marty-Pahtaykan.
He went on to say that he didn’t know that Clint Eastwood would, later on, become the executive producer.
“We didn’t find out until the film was ready to hit the film festival trail. Knowing that Clint strongly endorsed the film helped bring the film to light. ‘Indian Horse’ is Canada’s first blockbuster without any connections to U.S Film Industry. All of the actors were first timers, except for me and a few others,” said Marty-Pahtaykan.
When asked what he loves about being from Frog Lake First Nation, Marty-Pahtaykan said, “I love the peace and quiet by the lake when I’m not out in the world filming. I love the people who know who we are (The Marty Brothers), and treat us like any other - and that’s personal space and privacy. I also love the support and inspiration we give to our community members.”
When asked what he loves about his acting career, Marty-Pahtaykan said, “Love has a strong, deep meaning. I love my mom for encouraging me; my brothers; and our only/favourite sister, Casadaya, for being our rock.”
For more information about residential schools in Canada, you can visit www.nctr.ca, or to reach the Residential School Survivor Support Line you can call 1-866-925-4419.
In light of reconciliation, people can draw from a line in the film, “You can’t understand where you are going until you understand where you have been.”
‘Indian Horse’ movie poster. Photo supplied