All posts by Carolyn Potts

Teacher. Writer. Mom. Masters' Candidate, Faculty of Education, Western University. Studying Pop Culture Media as a Decolonizer of Education Policy and Practice. I also volunteer as a Girl Guide leader in my spare time.

Mohawk Girls — On:a

Last week’s episode of Mohawk Girls closed with everyone facing a critical decision that would affect their personal happiness. Would Caitlin choose Butterhead or Leon? Would Bailey choose to remain with James–a white man–or choose her responsibility to family and culture? Would Zoe choose to her needs or her mother’s ideal for a Mohawk citizen? And finally, would Anna, at long last, choose to accept herself and by doing so find her home in Kahnawa:ke?

This week the cold open featuring Bailey (Jenny Pudavick) and James (Jeffrey Wetsch) nicely summarized all of Bailey’s fears as this young couple contemplated what their future could mean together. After lists and careful reflection, Bailey chose both James and Kahnawa:ke. To celebrate, she hosted a pool party to welcome James. Anyone who supported her decision was invited to attend; a test run of sorts. Initially, it looked as though no one was going to attend and then once they did, no one was interacting. In the end, James broke the ice and challenged everyone to a cannonball contest. Nothing beats a good competition, and bridges between families and communities were forged.

Meanwhile, with Ohserase’s (Shawn Youngchief) support, Zoe (Brittany LeBorgne) was finally, at long last putting her own needs first instead of quashing them until they manifested in unhealthy ways. She was simply unwilling to sacrifice her dance class to participate in an end-of-season garbage clean up. She chose herself first over her community. Recognizing that she needed a clean slate, Zoe decided to remove herself from her family and Kahnawa:ke entirely. She and Ohserase went apartment hunting and found her fresh start; Zoe is moving off rez and into Montreal.

Anna ( Maika Harper) took a stand and chose self-respect over Midas’ two-blowjobs-a-day requirements, and Midas showed her the door. Anna’s cousin quickly stepped up to serve his needs. Later at the bar, Anna also took a stand against Iostha (Ally Pratt), and publicly declared that she is white and Mohawk and is “damn proud of who I am!” Did anyone else catch that look of envy by Iostha? The ONLY complaint I have about this episode was the Iostha storyline. While I understand the desire to tie up all of the loose ends, I didn’t think it was necessary for Iostha to also have an epiphany and suddenly put her nastiness aside. Cue the Happy-Happy. It just felt too rushed. At any rate, with her declaration, and self-acceptance, Anna finally feels as though she belongs in Kahnawa:ke. Hat Girl is BACK!

And finally, the most satisfying conclusion for the series! Caitlin (Heather White) finally put it all together. After unleashing a long stream of consciousness on poor Watio (Jimmy Blais), Caitlin realised she was looking for validation through men instead of loving herself. Watio queried, “So what are you going to do about that?” Let’s just say that when Caitlin makes up her mind, she really makes up her mind. First, she broke up with Leon (Dwain Murphy), and then we got to savour that moment we have all been waiting for since Season 1. Caitlin said goodbye to Blockheaded Butterhead (Meegwun Fairbrother) for good!

If you recall back when the series returned for Season 5, I felt Mohawk Girls had come full circle; back to the beginning of Season 1. While this final episode “Warriors” served to complete the series, I think it also satisfied many issues raised back in Season 1, Episode 4, “Where’s My Warrior?”

“Where’s My Warrior?” focused on the choice between the search for the warrior who would always have your back rather than just settling for a guy. Butterhead had just betrayed Caitlin when he drunkenly treated Lollipop to the butter treatment, so Caitlin returned to Stoney where her father (Lawrence Bayne) promptly let her down as well. Bailey was dating Jack, another white man, who ultimately let her down because he could not handle the drama. Zoe was just beginning to travel down the path of sexual addiction. Her need to rebel against the pressures her mother placed upon her were proving too difficult to cope and her father never stood up for her. And Anna had just embarked on her path of discovery, relying on Thunder for the cultural knowledge and community status that her deceased father could not provide, in order to help her establish her position in Kahnawa:ke. All of our protagonists were looking outward to locate themselves and find their self-worth.

Now we have come full circle. Instead of looking elsewhere for strength like we saw in Season 1, this season all of our leading ladies found that strength in themselves. In the end we saw Bailey, but with confidence in herself, and with the support of her family and her community, facing a bright future with James. Caitlin chose to find her happiness and self-worth inside herself rather than relying on the men in her life. Zoe chose to separate herself from her dysfunctional family and from the demands of Kahnawa:ke as she focuses on her next stage of healing. And Anna finally chose to accept both sides of herself, the white and the Mohawk, just as her parents had done by choosing each other, and through that self-acceptance found her position in Kahnewa:ke. So, tonight also answered the question posed in Season 1 “Where’s My Warrior?” Your “Warrior” is you.

My sincere thanks go out to co-creators Tracey Deer and Cynthia Knight, and the cast and crew of Mohawk Girls for a truly insightful but hilariously fun look at life in Kahnawa:ke and life as a modern Indigenous woman in Canada today. Nia:wen for sharing your home with us, teaching us and doing so with laughter.

Niawenkowa!

How do you feel about Mohawk Girls coming to an end? Let me know in the comments below!

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditlinkedinmail

Mohawk Girls: The choice is yours

Caitlin, Zoe and Bailey from Season 1, Episode 1, “Welcome to Our World”.

When we first began, we met Bailey, Caitlin and Zoe, three longtime girlfriends who were coping with the mundanity of life, looking to meet Mr. Right. Then, along came this misfit Anna who just wanted to fit and make some new friends. Now here we are; the penultimate episode of Mohawk Girls. And, we are down to some serious, potentially life-altering CHOICES! Do they each choose this or that? Are you “In or Out?” Episode 5 laid these decisions out for our Mohawk Girls and for viewers.

Caitlin (Heather White) was trying every sexy trick she possessed to earn her way back into Butterhead’s (Meegwun Fairbrother) good graces. Foot massage, home cooked meal, and cancelling her salon renovations. She vowed to always put Butterhead’s needs before her own. She even gave up an opportunity to participate in a fundraiser in order to cheer on Butterhead in his weekend lacrosse match. Then the day of the fundraiser arrived and Butterhead was too hung over to play in his match. Caitlin was left disappointed in him, but most of all herself, for once again putting a man before her own wants and needs.

Now, if you recall from Episode 4, Ohserase (Shawn Youngchief) came to Zoe’s (Brittany LeBorgne) defence in the coffee shop and the Twitterverse began to wonder if there was life for #Zohserase. This week Zoe came clean and revealed to Ohserase why she dated him: to get her parents off her back. Can I just say, every woman needs an Ohserase in her life! Dude is the perfect boyfriend! At any rate, he was impressed with Zoe’s honesty and bravery! He even attended her jazz class and OH YES! It is safe to say that #ZOHSERASE lives!

No doubt boosted by  Ohserase’s forgiveness and support, Zoe finally mustered up the courage to visit her parents (played by Tantoo Cardinal and Erland Campbell), which predictably, went terribly wrong!

Last week, I was not certain that Bailey (Jenny Pudavick) recognized where the photo of James (Jeffrey Wetsch) and her was taken. This week we learned pretty quickly that indeed, she did know that the photo came from Anna (Maika Harper), and the two come to blows, literally. “This place has turned you into an animal!” But theirs were not the only tempers to fly. Sose (Glen Gould) stopped in to check on Bailey and found her packing to leave Kahnwa:ke. “Your great great great grandchildren will grow up to be those awful white people who say they might have some Indian blood in them. How can  you deny you and your future children their heritage?”

Feeling pressure from her father’s attack, Bailey unloaded on James, listing everything that she must give up in order to be in a relationship with him. However, later, at the same fundraiser that Caitlin had turned down, Bailey presented a cheque in absentia for Auntie Velma. Other benefactors also in attendance came to Bailey’s side, all supporting her decision to be with James, and all disgusted by the behaviours of the Marry Out Get Out movement.

And finally, our misfit Anna, who in the wake of her vicious fight with Bailey, returned to her cultural lessons drunk. Anna was at her breaking point, feeling trapped into the party life she’s fallen into as a means to stay connected to the memory of her father. The instructor of the class reached out to Anna with a bit of cultural perspective. Buoyed by that knowledge she began to recognize the hypocrisy and deep seeded anger within Iostha (Ally Pratt) as they reviewed the quality of the prizes at the fundraiser.

Alright, everyone, this is it. Co-creators Tracey Deer and Cynthia Knight have led us to this point. All of our ladies must each make a choice that could mean sacrificing their personal happiness. Will Caitlin choose Butterhead, or Leon or herself? Will Bailey choose to remain with James or choose her responsibility to culture? And, like Bailey, will  Zoe choose herself or her mother’s Mohawk vision for herself? And lastly,  will Anna finally, at long last, find her place in Kahnawa:ke?

How do you think the series will end? Let me know in the comments below!

The series finale of Mohawk Girls airs Tuesday, Dec. 19, at 8:30 p.m. on APTN.

 

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditlinkedinmail

Mohawk Girls: Ain’t it a Shame?

Last week on Mohawk Girls, we were left with Zoe (Brittany LeBorgne) falling off the wagon and into bed with Phillip (Max E. Williams), Caitlin (Heather White) running to Leon (Dwain Murphy) when Butterhead (Meegwun Fairbrother) ditched her for the lacrosse team, and Anna (Maika Harper) was snarled in a scheme with Iostha (Allyson Pratt) to oust Bailey (Jenny Pudavick) from Kahnawa:ke because she’s dating James (Jeffrey Wetsch). AND Anna was also second-guessing her decision to stay with Midas (Tanner Novlan). WHEW! That was a mouthful (pun intended)!

Sometimes when you watch an episode and it is finished you sit back and say “Wow!” My response to this week’s episode, “Shame Campaign,” was exactly that, as it tackled the effects of shame on so many levels. This time co-creators Tracey Deer and Cynthia Knight have really outdone themselves. We still have all of the comedic elements that Mohawk Girls is known for, but this episode touched on several heavier topics, including verbal abuse, addiction recovery and the violence associated with the “Marry Out Get Out” movement. Of all the episodes since the series began five seasons ago, I feel this one counts as one of the best for scripting, timing, character reactions and interactions.

We open with Bailey taking James to the coffee shop where they immediately ran into her ex-fiancée Watio (Jimmy Blais) who was quick to accuse Bailey of being a race traitor. The entire shop backed Watio’s argument and Bailey and James left, but not before her father Sose (Glen Gould) witnessed the town’s anger and Bailey’s discomfort. The town’s rage continued to grow, the flyer campaign of Anna’s and Iostha’s doing took hold and by the episode’s end, Bailey’s car and home were left vandalized.

Meanwhile, Zoe immediately regretted her tumble with Phillip and she self-prescribed a dose of self-flagellation—”Weak, pathetic, a loser.” Apparently “Perfect Zoe” is still not allowed to make mistakes. But, some growth was evident when she was later confronted by town members at the coffee shop. They delivered an ultimatum: denounce Bailey as a race traitor. But Zoe refused and instead came to Bailey’s defense: “We should value happiness, and we should all have as much joy in our lives as possible.” And then who came to Zoe’s defense? Ohserase (Shawn Youngchief)!!! “She’s right. And, then maybe we’d stop trying to tear everyone down.”

In the meantime, Caitlin made the commitment to open her own salon, and she hired Watio to do the renovations. During their negotiation, Watio revealed that he’s inspired by Caitlin’s new found confidence. But not everyone was pleased.  Butterhead was not liking Caitlin’s metamorphosis. He’s “tired of playing second fiddle to Caitlin’s career,” and was definitely not liking the “no sex until I am finished working,” stand of Caitlin’s. Guess that self-love stuff is working because Caitlin’s confidence is growing! This arc delved to a darker level of overt verbal and very public abuse from Butterhead and we were witness to the effects his insulting comments had upon Caitlin’s confidence. “Proud of my new and unimproved shitty girlfriend who’s not there when I want her. And who is no longer fun and into partying because she is obsessed with her stupid salon. What the hell is there to be proud of?” Bravo to both Heather White and Meegwun Fairbrother for committing themselves to this scene.

And finally, we get to Anna. Up until now, Anna has been battling to locate herself in Kahnawa:ke. Now she is battling herself as she faces a critical choice in her journey. Will she embrace the angry and vindictive party girl that Iostha has been modelling for her, that negative stereotypical false concept of what a Mohawk should be? Or will she embrace the more culturally aware and authentic Mohawk traits? As a part of her Mohawk culture course, Anna was assigned to build a sweat lodge. In an attempt to force Anna and Bailey to mend their ways, Zoe invited Bailey along. Bumpy start is putting it mildly, but the three finally managed, and using traditional land-based education to understand their Mohawk culture and heritage, they realized success, healing and even the possibility of a liberal arts degree in the future for Bailey.

There are just two episodes left! How is Caitlin going to react to Butterhead’s escalating abusive behaviours? Will she run back to Leon’s arms for good? Now that Zoe has faced down the town, will she be able to face her parents? Will Bailey cave to the pressures of the “Marry Out Get Out” movement and break up with James? Will Bailey discover that Anna is behind the smear campaign? What is in store for the Mohawk Girls in the last two episodes? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

Mohawk Girls airs Tuesdays at 8:30 p.m. on APTN.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditlinkedinmail

Mohawk Girls: White but A’right, or is it?

As the title suggests, whiteness as it affects appearance, and the political ramifications of acceptance of those who appear too white, are the threads that are woven into Episode three of Mohawk Girls. I know that sounds pretty heavy, but we need not fear when left to the storytelling skills of co-creators Tracey Deer and Cynthia Knight. We were still treated to a heavy dose of humour!

We begin with a fully conformed Anna (Maika Harper) along with hater Iostha (Allyson Pratt) plotting against Bailey; the one who gets to go against the unwritten rules of dating AND finds happiness. The hardliner “Marry Out Get Outs” in town are definitely upset that Bailey (Jenny Pudavick) is dating James (Jeffrey Wetsch) and Iostha feels it is up to her and Anna to do something about it. After awkwardly collecting Bailey’s recycling–WHAT was the point of that scene with Bailey?–Anna and Iostha combed through Bailey’s garbage looking for proof that James has moved in. When that scheme failed, they turned to a smear poster campaign with the help of Anna’s personal photos of Bailey and James.

Meanwhile, James  was having trouble fitting in in Kahnawa:ke. His presence at Bailey’s even drew the suspicions of the local police. Bailey tried to ease James into the fold and hosted a games night in order to properly introduce him, but tensions still ran high. James could do no right, Zoe (Brittany Leborgne) started to slip into her controlling ways and Midas (Tanner Novlan), ever the total jerk–dude is worse than Butterhead–was just there for the expensive scotch and an extra blowjob. Bailey, hypersensitive to the situation, had unwittingly made James feel she was ashamed of him. A quick grounding over a homemade Italian dinner for two and these two lovebirds were back on track.

Caitlin’s (Heather White) own progress in self-love hit a few bumps. A date with herself fell flat, But clearly, some of what she has been reading has sunk in. Time was up for Caitlin and she was faced with a difficult decision: go back to her old job at the salon or start her own salon. She asked for Butterhead’s (Meegwun Fairbrother) input, but he had more important things to do. Cue the epiphany moment! Caitlin’s needs have never registered with Butterhead, and she finally, at long last realized that! Once again she turned to Leon (Dwain Murphy) for support and guidance.

And finally, we come to Zoe. Zoe was still plugging her way through recovery exercises. In the early moments of this episode, one of her self-love exercises asked to compose a love song about a part of yourself that you have always hated. And Zoe,  with the encouragement of her mother, has always hated that her skin is so pale and her hair blonde. This was what drove Zoe to dye her hair back in season four when she was seeking the title of Chief in the local elections.

Zoe: I was born with blonde hair and that’s ok,

I should be happy I was made that way.

But it’s much better that my hair is brown,

Because it was ugly and pale and the talk of the town.

SO I’m never goin’ back to blonde,

‘Cus I friggin’ HATE IT!

Tell us how you really feel Zoe! But, thankfully, that sequence led to Zoe dying her hair back to her natural blonde and she recognized that she is finally comfortable with who she is! (And OMG I have sobbed each and every time I have watched this scene!)

But now that the floodgates have opened for Zoe … can we just say, “Plastic knives are the new sexy!!” Hands down, Brittany LeBorgne delivered the two best scenes this week: a tearjerker AND a laugh out loud funny! #Beast!

So where are we now? Bailey and James seem on track, Caitlin is starting to realize she is just settling with Butterhead, Zoe has clearly fallen off the wagon along with Phillip (Max E. Williams) and Anna has now slipped so far down that she has betrayed a friend in order to fit in.

What do you think is next for Kahnawa:ke’s finest? Let me know in the comments below!

Mohawk Girls airs Tuesdays at 8:30 p.m. on APTN.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditlinkedinmail

Mohawk Girls: Pocahottie

This week on Mohawk Girls, we really begin to dig in, but we have a long way to go before the series wraps. I figure in order to have satisfactory closure a few things need to happen:

  1. Caitlin (Heather White) has to come to some type of reckoning with Butterhead (Meegwun Fairbrother) OR Butterhead needs to experience some kind of epiphany. Either way, something there has to give.
  2. Zoe (Brittany LeBorgne) needs to  come to understand how best to cope with her anger.
  3. Bailey (Jenny Pudavick) needs to decide which is more important, her own happiness or her responsibility to the band.
  4. And finally, Anna needs to find her place in Kahnawa:ke.

That all said, let’s take a quick look back on what happened this week on Mohawk Girls.

Caitlin (Heather White) is a two-timer! She can’t quite bring herself to break things off with Luscious Leon (Dwain Murphy), even though she is definitely back with Butterhead (Meegwun Fairbrother). She just couldn’t  bring herself to end things. And after Butterhead lashed out at her, Caitlin ran back to Leon’s arms.

Anna (Maika Harper) discovered, quite by happenstance, a Mohawk Culture class for young girls. So donning her guileless ‘Hat Girl’  ways, she asked if she could join in.  The classes focused on peace, love, respect and courage which left Anna questioning her role particularly with respect to her boyfriend Midas (Tanner Novlan) and bar buddy Iostha (Ally Pratt). But after another evening at the bar, Iostha had Anna on side to oust the Mohawk traitors, including Bailey.

Zoe (Brittany LeBorgne) reached a milestone in her therapy.  She’s allowed to return home for short visits, so long as there was a support system in place. Since her parents were still not speaking to her, that responsibility naturally fell to Caitlin. But all of this talk of self-love piqued Caitlin’s interest. Still stung from Butterhead’s verbal attack, Caitlin’s gears were turning. Maybe, just maybe, this self-love stuff will fortify her relationship with Butterhead? Or at the very least help her cope with her fear of breaking up with Leon? At any rate, the two buddy up to work through the workbook. Next step? Zoe needed to face her fear of her community. Where best to do that in Kahnawa:ke? The coffee shop. However, Ohserase (Shawn Youngchief) also happened to be there. That proved too much too soon for Zoe and she ran, tail between her legs.

We also saw a sexy little side story develop with Zoe, because after all, what would Mohawk Girls be without a bit of sexy Zoe? Sparks started to fly last week with fellow patient Phillip (Max E. Williams), also a self-proclaimed sex addict with a proclivity for knife play. That thrill and the danger cut a little too close for Zoe and she was definitely tempted. But will this temptation prove too much for Zoe’s recovery?

And while all of this self-discovery/healing on the part of Caitlin, Zoe and Anna was taking place, Bailey (Jenny Pudavick) was preparing to meet James’s (Jeffrey Wetsch) family; his father Charles (Vlasta Vrana) and none other than head writer Cynthia Knight as James’ sister Charlotte! Wanting to put her best foot forward, and armour herself, Bailey dove into Auntie Velma’s closet for something suitable to wear. However, upon meeting James’s family, Bailey completely lost her cool. Conversation quickly turned to a debate on whether or not cultural appropriation is equivalent to cultural appreciation upon her discovery of Charles’ Indigenous art collection. Operation “meet the family” became operation “fail.”

So where are we now? Anna has sided with Iostha as they plan to oust Bailey for dating James, James and Bailey appear to be on shaky ground following Bailey’s outburst, Caitlin still has not broken up with Leon and Zoe is lusting after Phillip. Seems we still have a lot of balls up in the air!

What do you think is next for our fab four? Let me know in the comments below.

Mohawk Girls airs Tuesdays at 8:30 p.m. on APTN.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditlinkedinmail