AB: Personally, it’s what gives me my strength and motivation to persevere all the challenges.
Culture of the arts is becoming a social environment and what’s cool is that the arts in Canada really integrate the cultures of all the peoples from around the world that live here. We’re lucky; CBC is a good platform for creating shows that showcase how we integrate those cultures.
tV: What do you think culture means to the average person these days?
AB: For me culture is represented through my ancestral teachings. When you look at Canadian society a lot of people find culture through different forms of spirituality and religion. It can also be found in the sense of belonging somewhere.
For me I’m lucky. Wherever I walk in Canada I feel my ancestors. I feel the belonging through the teachings that are thousands of years old.
When you look at the diversity of Canada and how it celebrates new cultures from other countries, you see that they’re shared in a way where people connect Canada’s soil to their ancestry. We all belong here; a whole nation of nations. It’s pretty powerful.
Canada is so respected for its integrated culture and it shows through our film and television. We’re really lucky to be able to share that in this country. Other countries don’t even come close to that.
tV: Culturally, what’s the most significant thing you’ve been aware of that has been either lost or found over the years?
AB: First nations are now coming into a time where they’re respecting their right of sovereignty with their traditional lands. We as a people are starting to grow economically through those treaty rights.
The schools in Winnipeg are now integrating the teaching of those treaty rights so we’re coming a long way towards integrating the history of first nations peoples into the real truth of how we belong in this country.
When I was in school history books really only ever showed us as a side attraction. They’d only talk about other people coming here to prosper, but now that’ changing.
You see that in every city in Canada; the social awareness is now changing.
The perspective is now changing for first nations people; once we start respecting the aboriginal peoples of this land in their rightful way, it spills over to respecting other cultures. We’re all part of this Canadian dynamic.
tV: Around the time of the Second World War there was a conscious effort to create negative stereotypes, and first nations were one of the targets. Have you seen any changes regarding that in Hollywood?
AB: I’ve always told people that I don’t believe in stereotypes because if you attach that word to who you are, it brings you into the sense of, “I’m not good enough because of who I am.”
My perspective is that I’m good enough at who I am today, and I’ll always grow to be somebody better. I have my personal experience to offer and share and if they take it they take it, and if they don’t, they don’t. I’ll never feel like I’m a failure that way.
Regarding the whole Hollywood stereotyping, I’ve never allowed anybody to determine my strength and willingness to achieve, to succeed. I always knew that one day I would have my dreams come true, and they have.
And that’s with the belief that I am unique and have experiences I want to share with everybody. If Hollywood takes it they take it, if they don’t, they don’t, but I am not going to allow anybody to destroy my dream because of a Hollywood stereotype.
A lot of people say, “I didn’t get that role because I’m a minority.” You’re already defeating yourself and your ability to achieve by believing that.
Understand that it’s a business, that they rely on whoever is hot now, and remember that one day you will be hot and climbing the ladder.
Hollywood has always been good to me. I’ve had some hits and misses. There’s always somebody with more clout and you can’t fight against that, but I’ve been fortunate that I don’t have a negative view of Hollywood.
I understand that there’s an ignorance towards minorities and I’m lucky that Canada doesn’t carry that. You never hear the minority word in Canada; we’re all integrated. I think a lot of people can learn from that.
Canadian: that’s a powerful word.
tV: Culturally, what would you like to see happen in the future?
AB: Wow, that’s tough man.
From a first nations perspective I would love people to understand that within indigenous cultures around the world people are educated about traditions and care about the environment. I’d like to see a celebration of a social environment that’s geared towards arts, entertainment, and community. We need to take care of our surroundings. Respecting nature is what nature deserves.
Check out Adam on his new TV series, Arctic Air.