It’s back! The show that electrified conversations around reconciliation in Canada last year is back for a second season! First Contact Canada is a multi-part television experience, airing on APTN Sept 17, 18 & 19 and follows six Canadians with stereotypical views on Indigenous people on a 28 day journey into First Nations, Metis & Inuit communities.
Last year, I was humbled to be the first contact for the participants in season 1 of First Contact and was blown away by some of the conversations that ended up happening as a result. Personally with the participants, but also in the community as more and more people saw the trailer, more and more people wanted to talk about it. We must acknowledge how difficult it is for the Indigenous hosts (as it was for me last year) and acknowledge that they are so gracious and generous for putting themselves into this position of vulnerability. Sometimes they share their own stories, sometimes the work they do, sometimes even their own home.
I believe it’s important for us to learn about one another in this country. When we have gaps in our experiences or relationships, we tend to fill those gaps with the information that is available around us. Too often the information that is readily available are the messages that reinforce negative stereotypes about Indigenous people, dehumanizing and demonizing. This show can help to fill that gap. First Contact is not preaching to the choir by asking those who are already active in anti racism work to do more (although please feel free to continue to take as much action as possible). It is speaking to those in Canada who do hold those negative, stereotypical and damaging perspectives. It is attempting to reach into communities where people often talk about Indigenous people instead of to them.
I know there are many who think “why should Indigenous people (the hosts) have to prove our humanity to anyone?” and I ask this question as well. But my answer is: we have to do these types of educational/entertainment things because the realities for Indigenous people in this country today are so urgent that it is the responsible thing to take every available opportunity to affect change. In our day to day relationships, in our jobs, in our leisure time, we are all in positions to respond to the ignorance we are faced with by sharing education.
I also want to take a moment to address something I heard a lot last year, and its referring to the participants on the show as “those racists”. They are human beings first and they are evolved humans (hopefully) from what we see in the previews. I ask that we all recognize the sacrifice these folks have made in terms of their own privacy, all in the name of improving Indigenous/non-Indigenous relationships. They had the courage to share on a camera thoughts and feelings that many people in Canada hold but often do not say out loud in public.
Whether you agree or disagree how the show did things, we can all agree that this is a conversation that needs to happen and needs to happen today. The courage that each person involved in this show displayed is the medicine our country needs and an example for the rest of us to follow. I love this because once these conversations happen and understanding is created we can move past talk to concrete and systemic actions.