Season one of the Canadian drama Trickster makes its American premiere on The CW on January 12, 2021, but its promotional rollout has been complicated by the recent public resignation of both of its creators, Tony Elliott (Orphan Black, 12 Monkeys) and Michelle Latimer (Rise, Inconvenient Indian), Variety reports. Latimer came under fire in December 2020 for laying claim to an Indigenous heritage in an August press release from the National Film Board of Canada, as reported by CBC News.
The claim was made in the biography section of the press release for Latimer’s documentary Inconvenient Indian: “Michelle’s mixed heritage informs her filmmaking perspective, and much of her work is dedicated to the pursuit of Indigenous rights and sovereignty. She is of Algonquin, Métis and French heritage, from Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg (Maniwak), Quebec.” Kitigan Zibi elders raised questions about Latimer’s connections to the tribe because of a recent trend of baseless ancestry reports, via CBC News. This initiated a two-month-long email exchange between Latimer and news outlet reps who wanted her to verify her ethnic background, which culminated in Latimer admitting that she had not done adequate research to confirm the specifics of her tribal links, according to CBC News.
A genealogist reported their findings regarding Latimer’s family history to CBC News: “The news outlet… examined census records showing that Latimer’s grandfather was not Indigenous or Métis as she had previously claimed, but French-Canadian.. A genealogist and researcher with an expertise in French-Canadian families independently examined Latimer’s heritage to reveal she has only two Indigenous ancestors… who lived in the 17th century. All other family members were ‘easily identifiable as French Canadians, Irish, Scottish.’ In other words, Michelle Latimer is white,” Variety reports.
Mi’kmaq director Jeff Barnaby (Blood Quantum, Rhymes for Young Ghouls) reported his own doubts concerning Latimer’s Indigenous roots to one of the producers of Inconvenient Indian, Ojibwe broadcaster Jesse Wente, a couple of days before the NFB item was published, as reported by CBC News. Barnaby recently claimed on Twitter that he had allegedly been pitching his own television show around the same time that Latimer had been shopping Trickster around, and that her Indigenous impersonation prevented him from accessing her same production opportunities.
We both had shows slated for pick up, hers got picked up mine didn’t. She’s sitting on a pile of money, I’m sitting on a pile of unproduced material and can’t afford my hearing aid lol. This industry wants sanitized for white consumption narratives, not Rez NDN’s with attitudes. https://t.co/UrXh4gdKCU
— Jeff Barnaby (@tripgore) December 23, 2020
The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Trickster‘s original distributor, told Variety that discussions about whether or not to reverse the series’ renewal order are already in progress: “What emerged has, directly or indirectly, had an impact on the producers, cast, crew, writers, author and many Indigenous communities… [We will] engage with community members and other key stakeholders to determine the future of Trickster.”