A year ago, First Contact debuted on APTN. The three-night broadcast event explored Indigenous culture through the eyes of six Canadians. Narrated by George Stroumboulopoulos, First Contact followed those six on a 28-day adventure to Winnipeg, Nunavut, Alberta, Northern Ontario and the coast of B.C. to visit Indigenous communities to challenge their preconceived notions and prejudices.
Now, First Contact returns for a second season. Hosted by George Stroumboulopoulos and broadcast over three nights—Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday at 8 p.m. ET on APTN—it once again seeks to inform and educate Canadians about First Nations people, culture and beliefs, and rid them of some preconceptions along the way. In my preview of Season 1, I wrote about growing up in Brantford, Ont. Located close to the Six Nations of the Grand River, I heard the awful, racist jokes uttered by more than one person in that city. In Season 2, a fellow Brantfordian takes part.
Sixty-two-year-old Larry Harris works in shipping and receiving and enters First Contact believing anything bad that befalls Indigenous Peoples are their own fault. So, does he change his tune over the 28-day experience? Certainly not within the first few minutes. Larry voices the opinion we are still shouldering the guilt for those who took the land away from the First Nations. Participants Brennan Kovic and Laurianne Bencharski say similar things, the latter that anytime a white person speaks about Indigenous Peoples they’re labelled a racist.
Twenty-six-year-old Samantha Whitehead, meanwhile, has a different view. She has never met a member of the First Nations and is genuinely interested in being educated. As for Jackson Way, the 19-year-old from Midland, Ont.—who hopes to teach history one day—believes taking benefits away from Indigenous Peoples will force the community “to work to get certain things.” He wonders if the current system is trying to make up for what happened in the past.
The six head to Kanesatake, QC, and learn the other side of the story of the 1990 Oka Siege—a very different tale from what Larry tells Brennan and Samantha on the bus there—and then in Natuashish, Labrador, time spent with the local Innu Peoples sheds new light on its residents and history.
In Episode 2, the six participants travel to Thunder Bay, where a number of incidents have exposed racist attitudes towards Indigenous Peoples prior to a meeting with residential school survivors in southern Ontario.
In the emotionally charged final episode, the six travel to Saskatchewan. Once there, they meet with people from communities deeply affected by the death and trial of Colten Boushie. At the conclusion of Episode 3, the Indigenous hosts and producers will sit down in an interactive panel, live on Facebook
First Contact airs Tuesday-Thursday at 8 p.m. ET on APTN.
Images courtesy of APTN.