“It’s time for racism on Turtle Island to come to an end. A legacy of injustice, fueled by colonialism has created a system designed to benefit from disparity, where violent actions against marginalized communities disguised as patriotism are rewarded, and where the pain of the historic, systematic eradication of my people has never ended. To ensure the safety of everyone on this land, the narrative must change.”
2021 Top 30 Under 30
How are you working towards the SDGs?
Much of my artistic and cultural facilitation work has been focused on addressing the anti-Indigenous and xenophobic racism that exists in this country. As an artist I do this through my playwriting, comedy, and the roles I choose to act. I try to promote equality by creating art that invites viewers to laugh at the injustices that shape our world in an attempt to diminish the harmful effects of colonial-based racism and hypocritical xenophobia. I try to do this through representations of Indigenous joy and BIPOC’s resilience by prioritizing said voices from my country-wide theatre and performance community. I don’t do this work on my own – it’s work of which many generations before me have laid the foundations for.
What motivates you to take action?
I am a Cree-Mixed blood and my ancestors signed Treaty 6 in the hopes of ensuring their safety in a losing battle for the preservation of their lands and their people. When this treaty was signed, it was stated that it would be upheld, “as long as the sun shines, the grass grows, and the river flows.” Since colonization, this part of the treaty has been ignored and for many communities, the river does not flow, the grass does not grow, and the sun can be clouded by the smoke of refineries processing the unsustainable oil and coal pulled from land.
How does land extraction correlate with sexism and racism?
I believe there is a correlation between land extraction and sexism and racism. We Indigenous peoples have always preserved the land in a sustainable way, and we very much have the power to continue this way of life, despite the trauma inherited from residential schools, despite the trauma inflicted from the sicknesses brought by colonialism, despite the witnessing of our very way of life being mistaught in museums and elementary classrooms, and even despite the citizens of this country blaming our problems on ourselves. We have been resilient in the face of this government’s attempts to fix the ”Indian problem,” yet even in our sovereignty, we cannot effectively address this problem as we only loosely control 0.03 percent of this massive land we once called home.
The pursuit of resource extraction comes with dire repercussions and a plethora of problems for communities living on and off of the land. I feel that resource extraction activities increase levels of racism, sexism, and ignorance based injustice from communities tied to work camps, and not to mention destroys the wild places left in this country.
Racism and sexism are ever growing concerns across Alberta, and this country. My call to action is not a new call – it is a call that my ancestors have passed on to me, one that the women of this land have been fighting for, and one that the endless efforts of black liberation movements have been fighting for. It is a call for an immediate end to the racism and injustice that pervades this country.
Film set of Folk Lordz Season 2, a cultural sketch comedy web series created by Todd Houseman and Ben Gorodetsky.
A photo on set of the film, “Whiteface” by Yardwork Productions, based on the play of the same name written by Todd Houseman and Lady Vanessa Cardona. The play and film tackle cultural appropriation by subverting the narrative of non-Indigenous people wearing Indigenous identities.
Todd Houseman and Ben Gorodestky speaking at a climate action protest in Edmonton, Alberta.
Todd hosting Stories on the Hills, an Indigenous storytelling festival created by Todd Houseman and Ben Gorodetsky. The event was created to honor the thousands of years of storytelling that have taken place in Amiskwaciy