Toronto-based director Michelle Latimer was recently scrutinized after years of claiming she was of Algonquin and Metis descent. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young)

Toronto-based director Michelle Latimer was recently scrutinized after years of claiming she was of Algonquin and Metis descent. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young)

‘Trickster’ fans question why CBC cancelled the series instead of finding new path

Indigenous TV series cancelled in the wake of controversy over co-creator Michelle Latimer’s ancestry

Fans of “Trickster” are expressing disappointment after Canada’s public broadcaster announced it was cancelling the Indigenous TV series in the wake of controversy over co-creator Michelle Latimer’s claimed ancestry.

Viewers, some of the show’s creators and fellow Indigenous actors took to social media on Friday to question why the CBC didn’t find a new path forward for “Trickster,” even though it had been greenlit for a second season.

“This could have been an opportunity to do it right the second season,” tweeted Mohawk performer and filmmaker Devery Jacobs, whose acting credits include the recent film “Blood Quantum.”

“I know dozens of real Indigenous writers and directors who could’ve taken over as show runner and benefitted from this opportunity.”

Shot largely in North Bay, Ont., “Trickster” was a mythical story starring Joel Oulette as a teenager who discovers he has magical powers passed down through generations.

The show debuted to much positive buzz last fall, but became a lightning rod of attention in December after a CBC News investigation challenged co-creator Latimer’s self-identification as Indigenous. The Toronto-based filmmaker had said she was of Algonquin, Metis, and French heritage, from the Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg and Maniwaki area in Quebec.

The news report led Latimer to issue a statement saying she “made a mistake” in naming Kitigan Zibi as her family’s community before verifying the linkage. She said she had contacted elders and community historians to receive guidance and obtain verification.

But the fate of “Trickster” hung in the balance, as questions were raised over whether show’s reputation had become irreparably tarnished.

CBC officially pulled the plug on Friday, saying the decision was reached after “many conversations” with the show’s producers, writers, actors, and Eden Robinson, the author of the books on which it was based.

“Fully respecting everyone’s perspective, season two will not move forward as planned unfortunately,” the corporation said in a statement Friday.

However, not everyone involved with the series was in the loop.

RELATED: Haida activist calls for hefty fines, jail time against those who claim to be Indigenous

JJ Neepin, a Winnipeg-based associate producer on the series, said she found out about the cancellation through Twitter, which “hurt.”

“The producer side of my brain is trying to convince the director side of the brain why it makes sense. Or it just might be my regular brain trying to tell my heart not to take it so hard,” Neepin told The Canadian Press by email Friday.

“I loved working on ‘Trickster,’ I genuinely thought it was going to be one of the big ones, an Indigenous entertainment legacy that I could proudly say I was part of for many years instead of just the short time it was going.”

“Trickster” was chance to develop skills on a high-calibre show alongside fellow Indigenous creators from many different nations, said Neepin.

“Whether ‘Trickster’ finds a new home or a new Indigenous show of the same calibre takes its place, I am glad that Indigenous voices are speaking up, not keeping quiet and continue fighting for our stories to be told properly (and) respectfully.”

The CBC declined an interview request on Friday.

“Trickster” was in a difficult position after the CBC report done within the separate news division of the organization.

Latimer became a prominent voice in the Indigenous filmmaking community in recent years, with prizes for her documentary “Inconvenient Indian” and a reputation for supporting young Indigenous filmmakers.

But questions persisted about whether Latimer had misled Indigenous colleagues on “Trickster,” and shortly after the report co-creator Tony Elliott and consultant Danis Goulet resigned from the project. Within days Latimer had left her role on the series as well.

On Friday, a representative for Latimer confirmed lawyers for the filmmaker had served the CBC with a notice of libel.

Latimer said in a statement “we have grave concerns about the fairness and accuracy” of the CBC reporting on her ancestry.

“The CBC was aware of the questions and concerns I raised about the integrity of the research they used to inform their reporting, as well as the manner in which they approached the story,” she said.

“And yet, they reported inaccurately about my ancestry and created a false narrative about my character and my lineage.”

CBC spokesman Chuck Thompson confirmed the broadcaster’s “lawyers are reviewing the notice of libel.”

While “Trickster” wasn’t a ratings smash in Canada, it was the most prominent Indigenous TV series in recent memory.

The show’s audience grew through on-demand viewings after its original airdate, and conversations stoked by its presence on TV marked a symbolic cultural milestone.

“Trickster” was picked up by U.S. channel CW and began airing in January, while broadcasters in the United Kingdom and Australia also carried the first season.

“Son of a Trickster” author Robinson said seeing a young, Indigenous cast “soar” was “one of the best parts of 2020” for her.

“The outpouring of support for the first season was magical,” the British Columbia-based Haisla and Heiltsuk writer said in a statement.

“I’m deeply grateful that CBC and Sienna respect this situation. It gives me hope that future collaborations with Indigenous creatives can be done with care and integrity.”

CBC said the “Trickster” cancellation doesn’t sway its commitment to Indigenous stories, and that eight other scripted projects are currently in development.

A statement from Latimer, issued after the “Trickster” cancellation, said seeing the world of the series realized on screen was “one of the greatest joys” of her life.

“I was not involved in the decision that was announced today and am sad to hear that season 2 has been cancelled,” she said in the statement issued Friday.

“I am incredibly proud of the entire team that worked so hard to bring ‘Trickster’ to life and I will forever be grateful to the cast and crew that poured their hearts and souls into its creation.”

– with files from Victoria Ahearn

Arts and Entertainment

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

PIctured here is a stunning sunset near the village of Halkirk on April 14th. Kevin J. Sabo photo
Village of Halkirk receives new RCMP Sergeant as delegation

Some unknown culprits have made off with a Village of Halkirk stop sign, council heard during its last meeting

Dr. Wayne John Edwards, 66, died Tuesday at Chinook Regional Hospital. (Cornerstone Funeral Home)
Lethbridge doctor becomes 7th Alberta health-care worker to die from COVID-19

Dr. Wayne John Edwards, who was 66, died Tuesday at the Chinook Regional Hospital in the southern Alberta city

Conservative leader Erin O’Toole holds a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, April 6, 2020. Top Tory leaders of past and present will speak with supporters today about what a conservative economic recovery from COVID-19 could look like. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
O’Toole to vote against Conservative MP’s private bill on ‘sex-selective abortion’

Erin O’Toole said he supports a woman’s right to choose and will personally vote against the private member’s bill

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau looks on as Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland responds to a question during a news conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Expectations high as Trudeau Liberals get ready to unveil first pandemic budget

The Liberals will look to thread an economic needle with Monday’s budget

Doses of the Moderna COVID‑19 vaccine in a freezer trailer, to be transported to Canada during the COVID-19 pandemic. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Pfizer to increase vaccine deliveries in Canada as Moderna supply slashed

Moderna plans to ship 650,000 doses of its vaccine to Canada by the end of the month, instead of the expected 1.2 million

A empty classroom is pictured at Eric Hamber Secondary school in Vancouver, B.C. Monday, March 23, 2020. The Alberta government says schools in Calgary will move to at-home learning starting Monday for students in grades 7 to 12.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Calgary schools to shift to at-home learning for grades 7 to 12 due to COVID-19

The change, due to COVID-19, is to last for two weeks

A man wears a protective face covering to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 as he walks past the emergency entrance of Vancouver General Hospital in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
COVID-19 spike in B.C. could overwhelm B.C. hospitals: modelling group

There are 397 people are in hospital due to the virus, surpassing a previous high of 374 seen in December

Ron Rauch and his wife Audrey are photographed at their home in Victoria, Friday, March 5, 2021. Their daughter Lisa Rauch died on Christmas Day 2019 when a tactical officer with the Victoria Police Department shot her in the back of the head with plastic bullets after barricading herself in a room that was on fire. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. families push for changes as special committee examines provincial Police Act

Solicitor General Mike Farnworth acknowledged the need to update the legislation last year

Major-General Dany Fortin, left, looks on as Minister of Public Services and Procurement Anita Anand provides an update on the COVID-19 pandemic, in Ottawa, Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2020. The Public Health Agency of Canada has set aside up to $5 billion to pay for COVID-19 vaccines. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada negotiating contracts to secure COVID-19 booster shots for next year: Anand

Most of Canada’s current vaccine suppliers are already testing new versions against variants

(Government of Canada)
Liberal MP caught stark naked during House of Commons video conference

William Amos, in Quebec, appeared on the screens of his fellow members of Parliament completely naked

Health Canada headquarters in Ottawa. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)
Health Canada releases guidelines for reducing COVID-19 transmission at home

Improve indoor air quality by opening up your windows and doors, among other encouraged ventilation measures

Most Read