Indians don’t make the news anywhere in this country unless they come screaming out of their isolated worlds masked, armed with automatic weapons threatening to steal headlines and slowing down traffic for thousands of commuters. Like a lot of things in this life, it’s actually a blessing in disguise. At least for me. It gave me a chance to work on a film coming soon to a TV near you.
The film, Indian Posse, follows the lives of three Native families over five weeks in Winnipeg’s gang-ridden North End and was inspired by reports of Native-on-Native gang violence from the wild, wild West. Directed by The Nation’s Katerina Cizek and Catherine Bainbridge through their company, Wildheart Productions, and shot by Moose Factory’s Paul Rickard, the film has been two years in the making (the assistant director was yours truly).
The title comes from the name adopted by a gang of North End boys in the early ’90s. Within a few years their membership has exploded and now numbers in the thousands. Their rivals — all gangs have rivals — who are fewer in number, call themselves The Deuce. The Deuce control downtown Winnipeg and are themselves controlled by another older and better organized gang with members in their late forties, the Manitoba Warriors. Their territory is spread out over most of the city. The gangs, of course, run the drug trade, prostitution, illegal weapons, extortion, break and enters, carjackings and the prisons.
The film’s main characters are 19-year-old Trevor Sinclair, Paul Lacasse (Trevor’s father) and Marie Kelly, a mother of six. Through them we catch a glimpse of how ordinary people cope with life in one of the largest, violent and poorest Native communities in Canada, the unofficial reserve in the heart of Winnipeg.
Trevor is a member of Indian Posse who is torn between his life of crime and violence in the gang and a quiet life with his girlfriend Leanne and two-month-old son, Trevor. Trevor has just been released from prison and now works, with several of his gang friends, for the Winnipeg Native Alliance, an organization committed to keeping kids away from gangs. Is he or isn’t he in the gang?
Paul Lacasse is Trevor’s father. They met only when Trevor was old enough to walk up to his long-lost father’s door to introduce himself. He quickly made friends with his half-brother and were soon running with the Indian Posse. “They had guns, dope and money right here in my basement!” says Paul.
Paul and his wife Jane are fighting a losing battle over their boys with the gang. Will their youngest boy, Paul Jr., be the next to join?
Marie and Lang are struggling to make a life for their family and live in fear for their children. Young girl gangs roam the streets and swarm helpless passers-by for clothes, money and to build their reputations. Marie and Lang worry that easy money in prostitution and the gangs will lure their daughters away. Will their fears be realized?
That’s what we asked ourselves on those five weeks in the North End while being chased by pimps and prostitutes and almost threatened by johns, gang members and the police. Ooohhh yes… the glamorous lives of filmmakers.
Wild Heart Productions are the people who brought you Power Of The North, Paul Rickard’s Ayouwin: Way of life and the Gemini-nominated film The Dead are Alive: Eyewitness in Rwanda. Indian Posse debuts February 13 at 10 p.m. and again the following night at 8 p.m. on CBC Newsworld’s documentary series Rough Cuts.
If you simply must watch Hockey Night in Canada, just tune in on Valentine’s Day, Sunday the 14th at 4 p.m. for the repeat.