Everything about Burden of Truth, eh?

Canadian Screen Award nominees: Joel Oulette and Peter Mooney

It’s Canadian Screen Awards week and we’re celebrating all week long in a very special way. We’ll feature exclusive interviews with the actors and creative folks who are nominated in the television and web series categories.

Today, it’s Joel Oulette, nominated for 2021 Best Lead Actor, Drama Series for Trickster; and Peter Mooney, nominated for 2021 Best Lead Actor, Drama Series for Burden of Truth.

Joel Oulette, nominated for 2021 Best Lead Actor, Drama Series for Trickster

How do you feel the Canadian TV industry is faring during these pandemic times?
I feel more people are streaming and binge watching a lot of TV shows due to this pandemic – hopefully Trickster on CBC Gem is one of them. I have respect for the industry during this time – they are really taking in all the protocols, making sure we are each doing a part and still creating diversified magic.

How have you fared during these pandemic times?
It is difficult, with not only the pandemic but also the news surrounding the second season of Trickster. However, things are starting to look a little bit brighter. I am currently in Tkaronto (Toronto) isolating while I try to stay healthy and be fit skateboarding and making my own home gym. I have to admit though, Xbox comes in handy while isolating, also auditioning and studying my script for my next TV family series, Ruby & The Well.

Do you think Canadian TV is stronger than ever when it comes to telling our stories?
I feel like it’s taken a small step into the right direction. I feel like there still needs to be work done, to create more jobs and room for Indigenous people, whether it is directing, acting, casting. I would like to see more diversity and inclusivity with not only casting but behind the scenes. The auditions I am doing now are a lot stronger than back in the day, though. I am looking forward to Canadian TV honouring the traditional territories, acknowledging the true history and the stories that have made Canada today, I hope to see more Indigenous youth behind and on the screen. There are over 500 nations in Canada alone.

Does an award nomination/win serve as validation for you or is it just a nice nod that you’re on the right track, career or choice-wise?
I am so grateful and humbled for the recognition and for the nomination. It clarifies that the hard work, the perseverance, and commitment is worth it. I wouldn’t be here without my family and many mentors that were on Trickster. My family is the most important thing in my life. I am beyond grateful for them always being on my side and helping push me in the right direction. I seek validation in how I feel about my own work, within my own support system and community. The rest is just a bonus.

What will you wear during the Canadian Screen Awards?
Something comfy but something that looks good. I didn’t bring a lot of clothes to Toronto so I’m going to have to start looking online. I’m always wearing my sister’s matriarch necklace, though.

What will you eat/drink/snack on during the Canadian Screen Awards?
I would probably treat myself and order something nice off DoorDash. There is this nice pizza place called Pi Co. so I’ll probably get like three different kinds with truffle oil. Make some popcorn on the side. Delicious.

Is there someone who served as a mentor when you were starting out in this industry that you’d give a special shout-out to in your acceptance speech if given the chance?
I would have to say my mom. She was the one to get me in my first film when I was five, as an extra playing dead from smallpox in the film Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, and many more. She was the thrusters to my rocket. She would do anything for her kids, and I have to give my all for her putting me in this industry.

Peter Mooney, nominated for 2021 Best Lead Actor, Drama Series for Burden of Truth

How do you feel the Canadian TV industry is faring during these pandemic times?
I don’t know the statistics, but I feel like it’s been a banner year for Canadian TV. In terms of recognition (Schitt’s Creek being the most notable example) and in terms of interest and production. Maybe it’s because our industry is smaller and nimbler than the one to the south, but it felt like we were up and running pretty quickly and, from my experience, safely. There’s so much in flux still while we wait out what is hopefully the last months of this pandemic, but when the dust all settles, I think Canadian production will be better off than before.

How have you fared during these pandemic times?
Like everyone, I’m ready for it to be over. My daughter just had her second pandemic birthday – there’s so much uneaten cake in the fridge. But I’ve been incredibly fortunate throughout. We shot the final season of Burden of Truth, and despite the limitations, managed to tell our best story yet. I am ready for that vaccine, though! I’m one age bracket away and walking around with my sleeve rolled up in anticipation.

Do you think Canadian TV is stronger than ever when it comes to telling our stories?
These things come in waves, but we are certainly at a crest now, and I think there’s more to come. There is so much content, and while that might make it difficult for a lot of shows to find a large audience, it gives a platform to so many more voices than before. And, because people can find content that really speaks to them, there’s real passion and engagement from the audience. I feel like there’s real confidence in our stories now. We don’t have to genericize our world – Toronto can be Toronto and not City X, and increasingly Winnipeg can be Winnipeg and Halifax, Halifax – it’s that specificity that draws people in. And it’s a double win. We get to tell our own stories and see ourselves reflected back, but we also get to be a part of this rich world of international television. When I think of what I watched over the last year, it wasn’t only shows from Canada and the U.S., but shows from Ireland and Israel and all over the world. It’s nice to be a small part of that international exchange of storytelling.

Does an award nomination/win serve as validation for you or is it just a nice nod that you’re on the right track, career or choice-wise?
That might be easier to answer if television was a more singular pursuit like painting or distance running, but it’s such a collaborative process that I’m really only the proxy nominee for a whole bunch of people. It’s a performance category, but that performance wouldn’t exist without the writing, editing, or the scene partner (thanks Kristin!). It is validating to see the show recognized, and it does make me think I’m on the right track, in the sense that these things can’t happen without working with great people, and I hope I keep getting the opportunity to do so.

What will you wear during the Canadian Screen Awards?
The top half of the suit I got for last year. Still got the tags on.

What will you eat/drink/snack on during the Canadian Screen Awards?
I recently moved to Prince Edward County, and one of my favourite breweries, Slake, is just a few fields away. They came out with a killer IPA called Slow Slow, but it sold out almost immediately. Finger’s crossed they’ll have a fresh batch in time for the awards, and if so, that. Maybe some take out from Bermuda or Judy’s BBQ too – win or lose, I plan to take the night off dishes.

Is there someone who served as a mentor when you were starting out in this industry that you’d give a special shout-out to in your acceptance speech if given the chance?
Sherry Bie took over as the artistic director of my old theatre school the year I started. She really eschewed the whole “break one down to build them up” method of teaching, acting in favour of a more holistic and experimental approach. She’s a wonderful woman. Plus, she let me in. I’d decided at the time that if I didn’t get into theatre school, I’d be a painter – and I am a pretty mediocre painter, so I can only imagine how that would have turned out.

Stream the Canadian Screen Awards on the Academy websiteTwitter and YouTube.

Check out the list of nominees.

Thursday, May 20, 2021
7 p.m. ET: Canadian Screen Awards – Cinematic Arts, Presented by Telefilm Canada, Supported by Cineplex (Narrator: Nahéma Ricci)

8 p.m. ET: 2021 Canadian Screen Awards (Narrators: Stephan James and Karine Vanasse)

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CBC’s Burden of Truth comes to an end after four seasons

In what is becoming a sad several weeks for Canadian TV, it has been announced that Season 4 of CBC’s legal drama Burden of Truth will be its last.

“After four incredible seasons, we’re bringing our Burden of Truth story to its conclusion in tonight’s series finale,” a statement read on the show’s official Facebook page. “We are so proud of the stories we’ve been able to tell each season, especially those related to social justice. We’re also tremendously appreciative of the support we’ve received from our fans worldwide, and are particularly grateful to the communities in Winnipeg and Selkirk, Manitoba, for being so welcoming to our crew.”

“We’re incredibly proud of Burden of Truth and are honoured that the show resonated with so many viewers worldwide,” executive producers Ilana Frank, ICF Films, Linda Pope, and Kyle Irving, Eagle Vision said in a statement. “When we began this season, we knew our story was coming to its natural end with a meaningful conclusion for Joanna, Billy, and the entire cast of characters. We’re thankful to the communities in Winnipeg and Selkirk, Manitoba, where we filmed our show, and our tremendous cast, helmed by Kristin Kreuk and Peter Mooney, for bringing ground-breaking stories to life. We also appreciate the steadfast support of our production partners at eOne, as well as our broadcasters CBC and The CW, on four tremendous seasons of Burden of Truth.”

Created by Brad Simpson, Burden of Truth stars Kristin Kreuk as Joanna Chang, Peter Mooney (Rookie BlueSaving Hope) as Billy Crawford, Star Slade (Frontier, Emerald Code) as law student Luna Spence, Meegwun Fairbrother (Mohawk GirlsHemlock Grove) as Police Chief Owen Beckbie, and Anwen O’Driscoll (Emerald CodeFlint) as new Millwood police recruit, Officer Taylor Matheson.

The legal drama follows Joanna Chang, a ruthless, big-city lawyer who returns to her small hometown in Millwood for a case that will change her life forever.

In the fourth season, a mining company reopened a dormant mine outside Millwood. Joanna and Billy, lawyers and new parents, stepped in to protect a local woman’s home from certain destruction. When the mine swiftly retaliates, Joanna is forced to confront a long-buried secret from her past and scramble to protect the future of her career and her family. As both sides prepare for war with the fate of Millwood at stake, Joanna and Billy must juggle their life with a newborn with waging a legal battle against a corporate titan. When they come across evidence the mine isn’t what it claims to be, Joanna seizes an opportunity to launch an unexpected legal battle that will bring the company to its knees.

Burden of Truth follows Frankie Drake Mysteries and Kim’s Convenience as CBC series ending this broadcast season.

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Burden of Truth: Meegwun Fairbrother on Beckbie’s journey and bringing an Indigenous POV to the writer’s room

Over the course of three and a half seasons, Millwood Police Chief Owen Beckbie has become one of Burden of Truth’s most intriguing characters as he’s confronted racism within the police department and faced distrust from the Indigenous community he grew up in.  

As portrayed by actor Meegwun Fairbrother, Beckbie is conflicted but highly moral, a brooding hero trying to both uphold the law and correct injustices that have been inflicted on Indigenous people in his town. However, he wasn’t originally conceived as a good guy. 

“I was apparently written as a bad guy at first, which made sense to me at the time because I was playing a lot of different bad guy characters, like in Hemlock Grove, Haven and some other shows,” Fairbrother says. “But they took one look at me [at my costume fitting] and said, ‘I don’t think you’re a bad guy.’”

The unexpected change allowed Burden of Truth creator Brad Simpson and the rest of the show’s writers to reimagine Beckbie’s story arc and make him a central part of the series. 

“Over the years, we just grew the character, because there was something interesting there—this Indigenous police officer who’s straddling two worlds, a foot in the Native and non-Native worlds, and also in a position of power,” says Fairbrother. “How does he, and how do all of us contemporary Indigenous people living in Canada, live and survive in a world that isn’t quite set up for us, isn’t quite made for us? That’s the journey, I think, of this character.”

Beckbie’s broadened role also led to Fairbrother, who is of Ojibway and Scottish origin, being added to the show’s writer’s room, first as a consultant in Season 3 and then as a writer in Season 4. He co-wrote this Thursday’s penultimate episode, “Where the Shadows Lie Waiting,” with co-producer Eric Putzer. 

To get ready for the instalment, we chatted with Fairbrother about playing Beckbie, making the jump to the show’s writer’s room, and writing stories that are “truly Indigenous.”

Beckbie is a fascinating character. How did you initially approach playing him?
Meegwun Fairbrother: Just before I booked the role, I had started practicing Okichitaw Indigenous arts, it’s a Plains Cree martial arts, developed in the Winnipeg area, on this land, and it’s taught by Master George Lepine … So I was practicing that, and I was really building myself in that way, and I got to know Master George quite well, and I actually learned that he is a former police officer in Manitoba. So we had a lot of talks, and I actually based the character a lot around him. Like imagining that George Lepine was a younger man, and the younger George Lepine working in his community, straddling two worlds, working in that bigotry but also trying to do something good for his community, all the same time developing this system that would help his community to raise themselves up and to help process trauma. 

Over the years, I think we just kept growing that, and that’s why you see the tomahawk throwing in Season 3, that’s part of the martial arts system. We wanted to pitch more and Brad [Simpson] got really interested in it and what it was, but we may leave that for the next show that we do. But we were able to bring that into the world, and I would say that the culmination of that story of working with him and building the character over four years is in a scene with Beckbie and Kip [played by Skye Pelletier] in [this week’s episode] when he’s showing him a knife, a historical dagger. I invoke a name in that scene, Ambrose Lepine, who is actually George Lepine’s great, great uncle. So that’s life and art all spiraling and culminating in that moment. 

Speaking of this week’s episode, how did you transition from being an actor on the show to also being in the writer’s room?
MF: I would say that it actually started in Season 2. I was invited in for a one-day consultant session, and I was just able to bring some perspective from my understanding, from my family’s understanding and help these non-Indigenous writers have an understanding into the world of what it is like to be an Indigenous person and what Indigenous people face. It really is like two different worlds that exist here in Canada: the Canada that everybody knows and the Canada that the Indigenous people live in and experience every day. So I tried to bring as many stories from my father, from my sister, from my brother and aunties and uncles and people from my own life, and I think it really shifted a lot of the writers. They didn’t have that perspective before and I think it really had an impact on them, especially Brad and Adam [Pettle], the showrunner. I think after that, they were just interested in having me around some more.

So in the third season, they invited me in as a full-time consultant. I was with them for six or seven weeks and got to really understand how to put a show together, how to pitch, and how each script is developed from infancy all the way to production level scripts, and understand all the moving parts. Whereas before I was just an actor—and I don’t want to say just an actor, but I was an actor playing a part in somebody else’s world—now I’m understanding how those worlds are built. And finally in the fourth season, I get to have a hand in creating the world and actually writing something. 

Is there anything in particular that you wanted to contribute to the writer’s room?
MF: The group of people that are creating the show are just wonderful human beings, and I learned a lot from them. And I understand now that that’s quite a privilege to have, to be able to be in a writer’s room, and not many people get to have that opportunity. I would say one of the biggest things that has come out of [me being in] the writer’s room is probably the amount of shows and things that will be affected by that room. All those writers going out into different shows, I was able to give them a little bit of perspective and insight into the world of what we’re dealing with. 

And I really believe that in order for stories to be truly Indigenous, we have to be there at the seed of the idea, which is the writing or producing or directing. Directing is great, we’re having more directors now, we have a lot more actors now, but it’s been a lot of non-Indigenous people writing Indigenous characters. But this season, we had Madison Thomas writing an episode and directing two episodes as well. Madison was also in the room during the third season with me and launched Kodie Chartrand, the character who was played by Sera-Lys McArthur. So all of that lends itself to better stories, more well-rounded characters, getting rid of what I like to call ‘the wooden Indian.’ I’m not wooden, none of my family is wooden, we’re all dynamic, fully fleshed out people with hopes and dreams and trials and tribulations. So complex Indigenous characters is what I hope comes out of my sharing and my connection to these writers and the rooms that they’ll go off into, the stories that they’ll share, because hopefully I’ve deputised them as allies so that they will be fighting the good fight in any room and any space that they walk into.

You co-wrote ‘Where the Shadows Lie Waiting’ with Eric Putzer, who has been a writer on the show for three seasons. What was that experience like for you?
MF: I’ve always liked Eric. Even from Season 1, we were always talking on set and talking about stories and coming up with things, so we were always in a creative mindset and liked working together and talking with each other. So it just felt like a natural progression to him to be the one that I was co-writing the episode with. Over the last few seasons, he’s gotten to be known as Mr. Episode 7, Mr. Penultimate Episode. He got very, very good at telling a really dynamic story and also having us on the edge of our seat . . . So to have him as my co-writer was a dream, and he’s a very good teacher, and he’s very patient because I had a lot of questions. And he was very good with setting deadlines, and I was able to meet them, and I think he really appreciated that on my part. We were a good team. And a lot had to be done in Episode 7. There had to be some wrap-ups, there had to be some getting of people, and so it’s a super dynamic, super fast-paced kind of complex episode, and that’s a result of all of our years working together and getting to know each other. 

Were you allowed to write your own dialogue in the episode?
MF: That was a question, I think, right from the beginning. Everybody was like, ‘I don’t know if we’re gonna let write his own stuff.’ But in the end, I did have a hand in pitching my own scenes, which I guess is probably not a normal thing. I think they trusted me enough to know that I was able to detach myself from the character and put my writer’s hat on, taking care of all the characters, taking care of the story, the wider movements of the drama, which in the end is more important than one character’s journey. How do all the characters move together in the story and get to a really exciting finish? So, yes, I did have a hand in creating and birthing the scenes, but TV is such a collaborative endeavour in terms of creativity. Eric and I created the episode, but then we had our head writer, our showrunner, and the writer’s room giving notes and also writing on it and changing it and adjusting it until we all are moving in the same direction and getting to the best product. 

This season, Beckbie has been trying to help Kip, who has been living in an unstable situation since his dad was killed in a racist incident. How does that play out in Episode 7?
MF: In terms of Beckbie wanting to help Kip, thinking that he can control everything and he’s going fix it all, he learns that he needs Diane [played by Nicola Correia-Damude] and he needs his community and he needs the people around him, he needs his officers, he needs help to raise this child. But even then, he goes at it a bit of the wrong way, and then he has to work all that out in the next episode, of course. 

What parts of the episode are you most excited for viewers to see?
MF: It’s hard to say. I love every character’s storyline so much. I guess, in particular, I really love Taylor’s [played by Anwen O’Driscoll] storyline this year. It’s very important to me. That story in our community is still very much present and for us to take down a bad guy like that is very satisfying for me. I think I will be writing a lot of those kinds of storylines in the future, getting the bad guy. I think if I can dream it up in my fiction and my drama, maybe it will start happening more in the real world, too. 

It sounds like you’ve been bitten by the writing bug. Is acting still your first love?
MF: I’m very intrigued by the writing, but you know, I’m a storyteller. That entails singing, that entails speaking, that entails acting, writing, painting, sculptures, you name it. I’ll do it all. However people will have me perform and tell stories, that’s what I’ll do. So in no way am I only going to be a writer now or anything like that. But I have seen the power of writing and how we can bring stories into the world at the seed and have it be a much more dynamic and complex story if Indigenous people are part of the writer’s room, are part of the initial creation of stories. So I’m going to definitely be writing a bunch of pilots and a bunch of stories that I’m gonna try to put out in the world and learning how to be as good as I can be, so I can get the stories that I know my community wants to see. 

I understand that the CBC recently awarded you funding to develop your one-man show Isitwendam (An Understanding) into a TV pilot. How is that going? 
MF: Oh, you’ve done some homework. Yes. I worked on a play with a friend of mine, Jack Grinhaus, for around 10 years, and last year, we got to show it to Toronto and the Talking Stick Festival in British Columbia, and then the pandemic hit . . . so we decided to put it to sleep for a little while and then the [CBC Creative Relief Fund] came up and decided, ‘You know what? We always wanted to do something with it in terms of film and television, so let’s go for it,’ and we put in an application, and we were awarded it. I just handed in my outline to CBC, and I am awaiting notes on the first draft of my outline. Hopefully, we can push that story forward and keep developing it. 

What else are you working on?
MF: Madison Thomas and I are also co-directing a short film. It just came together, it’s kind of a post-apocalyptic sci-fi short where we’re fighting aliens, but it’s a comedy. It’s called Shoot Your Shot, and it’s going to star myself and Skye Pelletier and Victoria Turko, who plays Dee in this season of Burden of Truth, as well as Stephanie Sy, who is a local Winnipeg actor extraordinaire. I don’t know if this is true, but it might have a home at Netflix this spring or summer. 

Burden of Truth airs Thursdays at 8 p.m. on CBC and CBC Gem.

Images courtesy of CBC.

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Burden of Truth: Kristin Kreuk breaks down Joanna’s Season 4 struggles

Burden of Truth could have ended after last season. The Season 3 finale wrapped up the legal show-turned-family drama’s storylines in a neat bow, with lead character Joanna Chang, played by Kristin Kreuk, completing her metamorphosis from emotionally damaged corporate lawyer to self-aware justice seeker and mom-to-be.

But just like after the show’s first season—which so efficiently resolved its legal-heavy environmental plot that it looked like it had nowhere left to go—it found a way forward by digging deeper into its characters.

“This year, we thought the only way to really do another season is to take it all away from Joanna and see what happens,” says Kreuk, who is also an executive producer on the series.

And in the Season 4 premiere, airing Thursday at 8 p.m. on CBC, Joanna is clearly struggling. She and Billy (Peter Mooney) are trying to find their footing as new parents while waging a legal battle against a powerful mine company that wants to reopen an old gold mine outside of Millwood.

“[Joanna] and Billy are really trying to parent without any support,” says Kreuk. “They’re just doing it on their own in a vacuum while both of them are working.”

The situation is made worse by the mine’s ruthless legal team—who use the same aggressive tactics that Joanna did when she was a corporate lawyer.

“She sees this mining company come in with predatory behaviour that she was part of in her past,” Kreuk explains. “So she’s trying to defeat her shadow self.”

We recently caught up with Kreuk and asked her to break down Season 4’s biggest storylines and explain what it was like to film during the COVID-19 pandemic.

How did the COVID-19 pandemic affect production this year?
Kristin Kreuk: We got kind of a late pickup for the show this year due in part to, in March, nobody knew what was going on or what would happen or how quickly the pandemic would resolve itself. Then we started shooting later than we normally would for our show. We didn’t start shooting until basically the end of August.

In Winnipeg and Manitoba at that time, they had very few cases, they hardly had a first wave. And so for a while there, it looked like we may be able to skate by a little bit. But even from then, before we even got on a plane, we got tested. We tested the minute we arrived. On set, everybody was wearing masks and shields, everyone was kind of placed in pods. People had to step away from set to eat, and there were hand-washing and hand sanitising stations. We worked shorter work days so people could get more rest, so they didn’t get tired and their immune systems didn’t weaken.

So a lot changed, and it was a very different season of television. And Winnipeg’s cases started to go up quite a bit in the fall, and they were the worst in Canada for a while, so towards the end, we got worried. But it always felt safe because of all the precautions. In many ways, I felt safer on set than I did anywhere else.

Were there any story changes because of the pandemic?
KK: Yes, totally. One of the main things was ensuring that we didn’t have very many background performers, so we didn’t do courtroom scenes really. We used to have big courtroom set-pieces at the end of every season, and we didn’t do that this year. We had to change it up.

Season 3 ended on a very positive note for Joanna, but as this season begins, she’s having some problems adjusting to motherhood and also finding it hard to be on the less powerful side of a corporate case. What can you hint about her journey this season?
KK: Joanna and Billy, when we left them last season, were probably in the happiest place they’ve ever been. The pregnancy wasn’t too hard for Joanna, she was able to work, they were doing very well, and she had kind of healed a bunch of her stuff. At the top of this season, the reality is sinking in more for them, and Joanna’s really struggled. She’s feeling the pressures of what motherhood should be and feeling all of the narratives that have been put on motherhood, and they weigh on her.

And then there’s the fact that the job she does is so dangerous in many ways because she’s taking on the underdogs in cases. It’s something that the other mothers that she’s meeting aren’t able to comprehend. So she’s kind of in this place of doubt.

As you said, Joanna and Billy were in a very happy place at the end of last season, but being a new parent is hard. How are they going to handle that?
KK: What I love about Joanna and Billy is that they love each other, that’s not a question. But this year, you’ll see the differences in what makes them feel secure and safe. For Joanna, it has to do with her ability to do the things she’s best at, particularly because she feels like she’s failing at being a mom, which is debatable. If you just look at what she’s doing, she’s not, but she really feels like she is. She feels most secure through being able to be great at her job.

Billy’s sense of security also comes through Joanna being great at her job, but he also wants a more traditional life. And I think those two things butt up against each other because that’s not what Joanna wants or needs, but that is what he wants and needs. So we kind of see that unfold between the two of them, particularly because Joanna’s choosing, similar to last year, a case that isn’t helping them to make money for their firm.

Two recurring themes I’ve noticed are finding the meaning of home and finding your identity after trauma, and it looks like Season 4 will continue that trend. Was it always the show’s intention to explore those themes?
KK: We are aware of what you’re talking about, but I think that when we started the show, we only understood one small aspect of what that meant—at least, I don’t know if this was [series creator] Brad [Simpson]’s scheme all along. I think that we were really focused on Joanna’s own trauma, and we weren’t looking at it as completely, but each season we’ve delved deeper and deeper into that.

A manifestation of that through Taylor [Anwen O’Driscoll] this season is her trying—and her storyline is so beautiful this year—to find her place in a town that she thought she’d never come back to, that’s a representation of her horrible relationship with her father and her loss of a future she saw for herself, of having to like reacquaint herself with her dreams and her place on that land. This season is very much about kind of repositioning yourself on your land and in your home and how you can do that while incorporating the trauma of your past into that without forgetting it.

I thought Owen Beckbie’s fight against racism in the police department was a very interesting storyline last season, and Meegwun Fairbrother did a great job with it. What will happen with Beckbie this season?
KK: [Meegwun] wrote half a script this year, so he’s been a big part of the season. Beckbie’s in an interesting place where he’s finding himself in a position of power, and he thought maybe, as an Indigenous man in a position of power, could change things. But he’s realizing through being on the ground that that isn’t true, that the system is the system. And so this season is sort of about him evaluating his place in that system and how he can create the changes he wants. You see that through the cop aspect of [the story] and also through this kid, played by Skye Pelletier, who he sort of takes on. His relationship with Beckbie is a big part of the season.

Burden of Truth hasn’t been afraid to hold up a mirror to some of the darker aspects of Canada’s history, particularly its treatment of Indigenous communities. Have you gotten a lot of positive feedback about that?
KK: Honestly, I think people are mostly really excited that we’re delving into those stories. Some people have told me that they’re actually learning from the show, which is kind of sad because our education system should be doing that. But it’s also great that we can do that because I have always believed that one of the powers of scripted television or feature films is that you fall in love with people, with characters and then you can develop empathy for them in a way that you feel more connected to. So feedback wise, people have said that to me, people really appreciate it. But I’ve also seen some really negative stuff about how we’re super white-hating, which is clearly also not true.

Did you have a favourite episode or storyline this season?
KK: It’s hard to say because it’s such a serialized show, but there are images that have stuck in my head as I’ve watched them through all the edits. There’s a moment with Beckbie, he has a scene with Crystal [Michaela Washburn], who we briefly saw in Season 3. She’s a criminal and he is a cop, and they’re both Indigenous and they have an all-out, intense discussion. It’s a very good scene, and there’s a small moment that follows that I find really moving, where Beckbie is kind of facing his cop self.

There’s stuff with Luna [Star Slade] that’s really powerful this year as she tries to decide what path she wants to take for her career, whether she wants to focus on legal aid, or if she wants to sort of go in the direction that Joanna went, and she has to decide what will make more of an impact based on what she wants to do with her life.

And there’s stuff with Billy and Joanna as they manage being parents that I find really beautiful. They come to an understanding with each other and they have therapy scenes, which I think are also really interesting. There are a lot of things to look forward to from all these characters.

Burden of Truth airs Thursdays at 8 p.m. on CBC and CBC Gem.

Images courtesy of CBC.

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Production begins on Season 4 of Burden of Truth

From a media release:

ICF Films, Eagle Vision, and eOne today announced that production is underway on Season 4 of CBC original drama series BURDEN OF TRUTH (8X60) in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Following lawyer Joanna Chang, (Kristin Kreuk; SmallvilleBeauty and the Beast), BURDEN OF TRUTH began production in early September and is set to shoot until late fall. Seasons 1-3 of BURDEN OF TRUTH are available now on the free CBC Gem streaming service. BURDEN OF TRUTH is also broadcast on The CW in the U.S. and on additional networks around the world.

BURDEN OF TRUTH follows Joanna Chang, a ruthless, big-city lawyer who returns to her small hometown in Millwood for a case that will change her life forever. Each season centres around a new life-altering legal case – the vulnerable plaintiffs searching for answers and the boots-on-the-ground lawyers fighting incredible odds to deliver justice.

Reprising their roles for Season 4 are executive producer Kristin Kreuk as Joanna Chang; Peter Mooney (Rookie BlueSaving Hope) as Billy Crawford; Star Slade (Frontier, Emerald Code) as law student Luna Spence; Meegwun Fairbrother (Mohawk GirlsHemlock Grove) as Police Chief Owen Beckbie; and Anwen O’Driscoll (Emerald CodeFlint) as new Millwood police recruit, Officer Taylor Matheson. Additional returning cast members include local Winnipeg actors Eugene Baffoe (Ruthless SoulsOur Scene) as Officer Thorpe; Skye Pelletier (Taken, Indian Horse)) returning from Season 2 as Saulteaux teen, Kip Bellegarde; and lawyer Nevin Page returns from Season 2 and 3, played by Paul Essiembre (ChloeWarehouse 13).

This season also welcomes new additions Brynn Godenir (The Middles, Journey Back to Christmas) as Stevie Nichols, Luna’s new law-student girlfriend, and Cherissa Richards (A Dog’s JourneyThe Secret Ingredient) as Joanna’s new adversary, Elise Moore.

Season 4 welcomes a talented array of directors including Doug Mitchell (The Pinkertons, Less Than Kind), Kelly Makin (Flashpoint, Saving Hope), Michelle Latimer (Trickster, Rise), Madison Thomas (Taken, Colour of Scar Tissue), and 2nd Unit Director, Tyson Caron (Wynter, Lovesick).

Writers this season include Brad Simpson, Madison Thomas, Eric Putzer, Shannon Masters, Hayden Simpson, Felicia Brooker, and cast member, Meegwun Fairbrother joins the writers this season.

In Season 4, when a mining company reopens a dormant mine outside Millwood, Joanna and Billy, lawyers and new parents, step in to protect a local woman’s home from certain destruction. When the mine swiftly retaliates, Joanna is forced to confront a long-buried secret from her past and scramble to protect the future of her career and her family. As both sides prepare for war with the fate of Millwood at stake, Joanna and Billy must juggle their life with a newborn with waging a legal battle against a corporate titan. When they come across evidence the mine isn’t what it claims to be, Joanna seizes an opportunity to launch an unexpected legal battle that will bring the company to its knees.

A CBC original series, BURDEN OF TRUTH is produced by ICF Films, Eagle Vision, and eOne. The series is created by Brad Simpson (Rookie Blue, King), who is also an executive producer. Brad Simpson and Adam Pettle (Saving Hope, The Detail, Nurses) serve as co-showrunners and also write on Season 4. BURDEN OF TRUTH is executive produced by Ilana Frank (Nurses, Saving Hope), Linda Pope (Nurses, Saving Hope), Adam Pettle (Nurses, Saving Hope), Jocelyn Hamilton (CardinalMary Kills People), Eagle Vision’s Kyle Irving (Taken, Ice Road Truckers) and Kristin Kreuk (Beauty & The Beast, Smallville). Co-Executive producers are Lisa Meeches of Eagle Vision (Taken, Ice Road Truckers) and Tyson Caron (Lovesick, Wynter).

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