CBC's ‘Trickster’ Is Indigenous Gothic At Its Finest

Eden Robinson's trilogy is flipping the script on Indigenous stereotypes in media.

Boy meets girl. Boy also meets talking raven, family drama, teenage troubles, and his own supernatural reckoning.

As October is the season for spine-chilling movies and shows, CBC’s hotly anticipated series “Trickster,” premiering on Oct. 7, is making waves for spinning a drama unlike any other.

“I feel like it’s both a coming-of-age story, but also an Indigenous gothic story that uses supernatural elements to unpack a family’s healing,” showrunner Michelle Latimer told HuffPost Canada. Watch the video above to hear Latimer and show lead Joel Oulette reflect on the show’s importance.

Based on the best-selling trilogy by author Eden Robinson, “Trickster” follows teenage Jared and the chaos, both otherworldly and interpersonal, that dogs his every waking moment in Kitimat, B.C.. Despite his efforts to live an ordinary life and romance a new neighbour, terrifying visions hound him. That’s not to mention the mundane, but very real horror that is unpaid debt, minimum wage work, and family trauma Jared shoulders.

It’s already racked up high praise from reviewers for stand-out performances from the main cast, especially Oulette’s perfect adaption of a beloved literary character, the swoon-worthy Kalani Queypo, and Crystle Lightning, whose explosive presence and emotional range shines in her role as Jared’s mom Maggie.

Trickster” is a fun watch first and foremost, but Oulette also aims to dismantle Canadian perceptions that Indigenous experiences are a monolith.

“There’s so many cultures ... it’s really important to make them realize that we’re not just that stereotypical Native, you can actually learn stuff,” he said.

As Latimer points out, the Indigenous lore ― Haisla Nation’s, in particular ― featured in the show comes from an authentic place, unlike pop culture’s racist cliches of vision quests and burial grounds.

“I think that can be very damaging, that kind of representation,” she said. “Trickster is very much a reclamation of those old and dated ideas of what Indigenous culture is; it takes into the present where Indigenous people are telling stories their own way.”

A CBC release outlines how “Trickster” did just that, through a simple, but rarely used model: Indigenous people were prioritized in leadership positions, onscreen, and on-set, with training and mentorship programs built in.

“Trickster is very much a reclamation of those old and dated ideas of what Indigenous culture is; it takes into the present where Indigenous people are telling stories their own way.”

- show co-creator Michelle Latimer

Latimer also notes how “Trickster” frames issues like treaty rights and pipelines in an accessible format, as TV shows tell stories that news articles can’t. The realm of magical realism, in particular, is rich with possibilities.

“I hope that ‘Trickster’ is a step in the direction of healing that this nation needs ... we’re in this critical time in society where I do think we’re imagining the future we move into,” she said. “I hope this is part of that.”

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