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Laughter and Reconcilliation

by Ariel Beynon

Might as Well Laugh—one of the talks from Voices in the Circle—is about to begin.  The room is filled with people as Tenille K. Campbell and Darrel J. McLeod are introduced.  Within the first few minutes everybody is laughing. The boisterous feeling doesn’t let up when heavier questions are posed, merely retreating into the background before making a grand return.

A point that comes up early on in the discussion is that pieces that deal with Indigenous narratives and community in the prevalent cinematic culture hardly show their comedic side. Whether you are Indigenous or not, it isn’t difficult to see how much love and laughter exists in these communities, something that can be lost due to the barriers formed by racism and colonialism.

After listening to multiple Indigenous writers in different workshops, comedy becomes something that you feel is natural.  It is something that fits seamlessly into their narratives, like rocks in a riverbed that the water flows around at intervals—never slowing down but continuing.  As Tim Fontaine, the producer of the satirical Indigenous news page, Walking Eagle, puts it, “Our humour, and showing our humour is a way of letting people know, this is us … we’re not all the stoic people that you’ve seen, we’re not the victims you see on TV—we’re funny, and humorous, and there’s joy in our communities”.  By writing laughter-inducing love poems and engaging in stand-up comedy, Tenille K. Campbell and Darrel J. McLeod are doing just that.