Sasha produced me yesterday for an etalk interview with Joe Buffalo. He’s a legend on the skateboarding scene in Canada, and he’s the subject of a documentary short film, JOE BUFFALO, making the festival rounds this year, most recently at the Tribeca Film Festival where it screened last week and will be available until the end of day. Here’s the trailer:
This is a raw and powerful film about survival and perseverance and reconnection. Joe is a residential school survivor. He was taken from his home and forced into a residential school when he was just eleven years old, carrying that trauma with him for decades afterwards, to the point of drug addiction. He told me yesterday that what saved him was finally confronting the layers of pain that he had been burying, addressing the source of all his emotional scarring, and naming it: colonialism and white supremacy. From there, with the support of his community and culture, he rebuilt his life…and found joy in skateboarding again. And turned pro – in his 40s!
But that’s also a point I want to drive home: Joe Buffalo is only 43 years old. Which means he was forced into residential school in 1989; that’s how recent this is. And I know that the stats are there – that the last residential school closed in 1996, but sometimes that’s just a year on a page. To fully appreciate that this wasn’t happening in the black and white days but to someone who is, like, Ashton Kutcher’s age… this is when you know Canada’s bullsh-t, all of our bullsh-t, for those of us who are not Indigenous, is real f-cking fresh. It’s a reminder that we have a lot of learning and unlearning to do, a lot of work to do, so much to be accountable for, both personally and nationally, in every level of government, and in what we expect of our lawmakers.
As for Joe, he’s skating and he’s designing. The skateboard that he designed, inspired by his ancestor, Pitikwahanapiwiyin (Poundmaker) sold out quickly. He’s working on some new and exciting releases. And he also mentors young people through Nations Skate Youth which aims to “empower Indigenous youth to embrace their right to self-determination through the positive impact of skateboarding”. Please visit the website if you are able to support their efforts. Read more about Joe here. And definitely check out the documentary, JOE BUFFALO. It’s been collecting awards all over the place and is screening at the Whistler Film Festival and at Cannes in a few weeks.
Yours in gossip,