Standing under the giant canoe sculpture in Bastion Square, Steve Sxwithul’txw (Swee-thult) pictures two stars engraved with the the names of Indigenous filmmakers and actors.
Saulteaux actor Adam Beach, and the late Chief Dan George of the Tsleil-Waututh Nation, would be Sxwithul’txw’s choice for the first two stars of the Indigenous Walk of Fame, a project he hopes the City of Victoria will embrace.
Sxwithul’txw presented his idea to council last week.
A producer and filmmaker, Sxwithul’txw said there are many Indigenous people in the industry, but their accomplishments are not formally recognized.
“We have some very gifted Indigenous, Native American actors that – some are gone and some are still active – but [all] have yet to get the recognition I feel they deserve,” he said.
Even in Hollywood films, Sxwithul’txw said, there are problems with the way Indigenous people are represented.
“There are just so many [actors]…who are playing Indigenous people. When you look at them, it’s ridiculous,” he said. “We aren’t being represented properly in the way we want to be represented in film.”
Burt Reynolds, Audrey Hepburn, and Johnny Depp, for example, have all portrayed Indigenous characters.
Right now, he said, is the time to address the lack of acknowledgement, with 2017 named the Year of Reconciliation, in various places across the country, including in the City of Victoria.
The Indigenous Walk of Fame, he said, would honour Indigenous people in the film industry for their contributions, especially because they are noticeably absent from the Hollywood Walk of Fame and underrepresented.
Victoria would be an ideal spot, Sxwithul’txw said, because it is a tourist city, and because of the proximity to Vancouver as Hollywood North.
He’s applied for a grant, spoken to local politicians about supporting the project, and has even incorporated the name Indigenous Walk of Fame as a charity.