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Trickster Canceled Following Co-Creator’s Indigenous Heritage Claims Controversy

Trickster -- "Episode 2" -- Image Number: TRK102_0001.jpg -- Pictured: Kalani Queypo as Wade -- Photo: Sienna Films Trickster XIX Inc. -- © 2020 Sienna Films Trickster XIX Inc.

We are very sad to hear this news. The Canadian Broadcasting Company which produced Trickster, now airing in America via The CW, will not be proceeding with a second season due to the ongoing controversy surrounding co-creator and director Michelle Latimer, after allegations and media scrutiny that she was not Indigenous after claiming that heritage for two decades and building her career on that identity.

Variety writes:

The hurt and anger from the Indigenous filmmaking community that followed on social media has been palpable, drawing further attention to the need for systemic change as awards bodies and the funding arms Latimer has benefited from begin conversations about where to go next.

Prior to the outcry last month around the investigation into Latimer’s heritage and scrutiny from the communities she claimed to be connected to, a second season of the series was in the works, but this has now been canceled. In a statement, the CBC explained: “We have had many conversations over the last few weeks with a view to continuing production on a second season of Trickster. Those conversations included producers, writers, actors, and the author of the books on which Trickster is based. Fully respecting everyone’s perspective, season two will not move forward as planned unfortunately.”

The network also added: “CBC is extremely proud we were able to bring this compelling story to the screen and are grateful to the many talented individuals who made it possible. We are as committed as ever to telling other important Indigenous stories, of which there are many. In fact, CBC currently has eight such scripted projects in development and we look forward to sharing more details about what’s next in the coming months.”

The latter statement is encouraging, but this cancelation is still painful and the entire situation upsetting. Not only was Trickster a great show, but it was something very unique in that it was entirely centered on Indigenous characters and stories in the modern-day. It certainly hurts that the bad faith actions seemingly made by Latimer will end the run for this show and affect the many Indigenous actors and crew employed by it.

Per Variety, Latimer wrote on Facebook after CBC News’ investigation in December:

“I know that when questions like these are raised, it hurts our entire community and undermines the years of hard work that so many have contributed towards raising Indigenous voices,” she wrote in a Facebook post. “I take responsibility for the strain this conversation is having on the people who have supported me, and I apologize as well for any negative impact on my peers in the Indigenous filmmaking community.”

But pushback from the Indigenous creatives behind the show was palpable and swift:

The day after Latimer released her statement, producers Danis Goulet, who is Indigenous, and Tony Elliott announced they had resigned from “Trickster” and [author Eden] Robinson issued a statement of her own. “I’m so embarrassed. I feel like such a dupe,” she wrote. “I don’t know how to deal with the anger, disappointment and stress. As wretched as this moment is, I’d rather know the truth.”

Eden Robinson, author of Son of Trickster and subsequent sequels which would have been the basis for continuing stories, has issued a statement today on the positive aspects of watching the show evolve: “One of the best parts of 2020 was watching the young, Indigenous cast soar. The outpouring of support for the first season was magical. 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.”

There is no word yet from The CW on this. There is always the possibility that they or their parent companies such as CBS or Warner Bros. may step in to save the show on their own, given that The CW simply purchased Trickster to air in the US. It’s an incredible, fascinating show with an amazing cast, so I hope that we will see more of it in some form in the future.

For now, the final episodes will continue to air on the CW on Tuesdays, with the finale slated for February 16th. The story of the first book will be wrapped up by season’s end so, don’t worry too much about cliffhangers therein.

(via TVLine, Image: Sienna Films/Trickster XIX Inc/The CW)

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Jessica Mason (she/her) is a writer based in Portland, Oregon with a focus on fandom, queer representation, and amazing women in film and television. She's a trained lawyer and opera singer as well as a mom and author.