SIX NATIONS – Both Kalem “Howęnádae:’” Powless, 9, and Wathaheh Martin, 11, were selected to share their lives for an episode with TVO Kids for a program set to air in January.
The program took 20 Onkwehon:we youth across Canada and allows young non-native viewers to get a taste of what life is like on a reserve and to become more aware of the original people.
The young athletes shared activities, sports, their families and traditional foods throughout the two-day filming process for their individual episodes.
Kalem’s mother Laurie Powless explained that their involvement was a matter of responding to an enquiry.
“Johnny works with Kevin [Sandy] and does stuff for him too. So Kevin asked Johnny if he knew of any kids between seven and 10 years old that would want to do something like this,” said Laurie. “So we found out if [Kalem] would want to do that and he said ‘yeah,’ he would.”
Laurie also explained that her father, Ivan Bomberry, became a cultural consultant for their episode and helped to ensure that the crew were given accurate information and utilized culturally correct sensitivity.
She said that although her son is rather shy with new people, the camera crew were very good with soft-spoken Kalem as he showed them mini-golfing, zombie tag, and how to make corn soup and ham and scone at a family potluck.
“It was good,” he said. “[I started playing lacrosse] when I was four,” as the crew also viewed and filmed one of his home games for his episode.
“And I took them to my school,” he said.
Kalem shared his school, I.L. Thomas, as it is one of the only elementary schools with a greenhouse, and noted that the crew even took time to film his litter of puppies.
But after one of the other 20 youth were unable to film their episode, Laurie sent the information to Martin’s mother Jerrica Thomas-Hill to see if they would like to film — and they did.
“[Wathaheh] was the last one to be filmed,” said Thomas-Hill. “[The program is] more or less like aboriginal kids in Canada telling the story through their own voice more or less, like their lives and culture and community and stuff like that.”
She said that among the sports activities they also shared the making of strawberry juice, corn soup and a storytelling session with a family relative. And Martin was eager to share with the crew.
“I liked it, but it was nerve-wracking,” said Martin. “We rode the four-wheeler at my papa’s house, we went swimming, we went bike riding by the Grand River and we played lacrosse, we played baseball and they went to my hockey practice.”
The activities of both athletes will be able to be viewed on television and online through TVO Kids, and their stories are hoped to set an example of active living and influence viewers as young role models.