Saturday, October 19, 2013

To Boldly Go

As a kid, I was massively obsessed with Star Trek: The Next Generation. My whole life, I wanted to be an adventurer and that show fed my curiosity to see places others hadn't ever seen. On blizzardy nights when my dad would take our family for a ride around town, the snow flying past the windshield made me feel I was on the bridge of the Enterprise at warp. The show made me feel like I could be anything I wanted to be and I always loved it for that.

The only thing I hated about it was there weren't any Native people in Starfleet.

If I see myself on screen, then I know that I exist
Gabourey Sidibe
I've read numerous times of how other people of colour have been inspired by Trek into pursuing their dreams. It's why I was pissed when a former friend said Uhura was just a glorified telephone operator. As a child, I would have loved to see someone who looked like my mother as a Lieutenant or even a Captain on Star Trek. Not just because it would have been COOL AS HELL but it would have been awesome to have a role model in the sciences even if they were just a fictional character.

As of right now, I am still the only person in my family to get a university degree. I was the first to graduate high school. When I was kid, I taught myself to read and read everything I could get my hands on. My parents supported it but it was always sad to me when my dad couldn't help me with my homework because of his lack of education. When I first went to university, the fact that I had no one to learn from who had been there before was terrifying. Luckily, I met many Aboriginal women who were in the same boat as me and I made a lot of lifelong friends (Looking at you, Miranda, Anna, Angeline, and Randi) who I felt I could learn from. They also understand the subtleties of Native humour that many non Natives don't get.  

Even though I am no longer pursing the sciences, I still think it's an important subject. Yeah, it's cool that there's so many Native lawyers but there should be more doctors, physicists, and engineers. I used to work for a program that allowed children from reserves to explore various "career" options that involved showing them a day in the life of a doctor or an engineer and it was so cool to see them excited about designing a bridge or checking their friend's blood pressure.  I think a lot of us forget that the true essence of science is discovery and get distracted in high school by terrible teachers who made it horrible. I always loved physics but it is one of my weakness. I often wonder where I'd be if I had had a teacher that supported my curiosity on the subject rather than criticized me for a 63% on a final exam by sneering, "I thought you studied for this exam?" 

 Lastly, if there had been a Native person on Star Trek, it would have given me hope that we did make it to the future. I know, that sounds lame but hear me out. With a government effectively trying to wipe out our way of life and make it more "Canadian", it seems unlikely that our culture will survive without a massive campaign to maintain it. My Cree teacher told me that the Native languages most likely to survive into the next few decedes are Cree and Ojibway. With my sister and I unable to speak it fluently, I know that Cree is going to die out with my parents unless I put my mind to it and try to learn it. But when I think about stuff like this, I remember a quote from another sci fi show I came to like...

You lot, you spend all your time thinking about dying, like you're gonna get killed by eggs, or beef, or global warming, or asteroids. But you never take time to imagine the impossible. Like maybe you survive.  
The 9th Doctor, Doctor Who

I want to have a hand in maintaining my culture. I became a writer because I wanted to make sure that one day, there would be a Native character that a little Native girl could look up to. I became a director so I could make sure I had good parts for Native people. And I became an actor so I'd be ready to play the first Cree Starfleet Captain. 

Hey, we all have an impossible dream.

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