On following in my father’s footsteps
The subject matter of Tkaronto has been something I've been trying to avoid since I started making films. I never wanted to put the Aboriginal-ness out there on the forefront; I always thought I'd leave it in the background as the subtext of my work. Working with Aboriginal subject matter seemed to me more of my father's line of work, a path that he casts a very large shadow over. My father, Tony Belcourt, a prominent Métis rights leader, has accomplished so much in the Aboriginal community that I wanted to somehow do my own separate thing. The strange thing was by making this film, by putting my Aboriginal-ness out there and exploring that in this film, so many special things just fell into place, as though the film was meant to be. And I called my dad before we started shooting the first day and I told him that I loved him, that I loved all that he has given me, including this Aboriginal heritage, and that I was making this film for our family. See, my father grew up being told to hide his Métis identity so he could get ahead in life—his parents were made to feel ashamed of it. And here he grew up to become a Métis political activist raising the Métis flag so high for so many people to come out of the shadows and stand together under. So to make this film about urban Aboriginal identity and how we make sense of it in our modern age seems like, well, continuing the family business. It doesn't make me feel like a filmmaker as much as it makes me feel like, as an adult, my father's true son.