Shadow of the Rougarou is a tale of horror and family secrets.
“It’s set in the late 1800s,” said Jordan Waunch, director of the upcoming microseries.
“It’s basically about sâkowêw, a Métis and Cree fur trapper, who must return home to her native village to confront her past as this ancient evil stalks her, and that’s the Rougarou. It’s basically the half-breed werewolf.
The series will premiere on APTN Lumi on May 9. It is a program in six series with a total duration of 39 minutes.
The story originates from Métis tales told in many communities over the past century. Waunch spent two years preparing for the show by speaking with Elders and Knowledge Keepers to ensure the story was as authentic as possible.
“The one thing that was really important to recognize and recognize, and we have a caveat to start the show off, is that being a community story and a regional story, it’s different from a Métis community to the other. So, there is no single story telling,” Waunch explained.
“The Elders I’ve worked with, we rely on what they learned and what I heard growing up. I also tried to do just a general scope of the story.
Waunch also spent a lot of time researching the period in which the tale originates. It incorporated four different languages that were spoken at that time, including Northern Michif, Chinook Wawa, English, and Cree.
Elders, language users, and lore keepers had to translate much of the script, while also teaching the actors the proper way to speak, as some languages are no longer in common use.
Clothing and costumes were custom made and based on the period.
Waunch, who is a self-proclaimed historian, said he got the idea for the show after attending an imagineNATIVE 20th anniversary event.
The stories, films, documentaries and art shown at the event were hugely inspiring, but Waunch felt like something was missing.
“Leaving the festival, towards the end of the festival, my only sadness was that there were very few Métis stories being told there,” he explained. “As a Métis myself, I wanted to change that so that it lit a fire (in him).”
Upon returning home, Waunch began writing the screenplay.
“Many of the most amazing times for the Métis are the 1800s during the North West Resistance,” he said. “So many important historical things happened during this time.”
Waunch also said he wanted the main character and the story to be told about a woman, because in many of the books he reads there is very little mention of the roles played by women at that time. .
“I wanted to hear a woman’s story because women were really part of the buffalo hunts. They were really part of the family structure,” Waunch said.
“That’s why I wanted to see someone like sâkowêw headlining a show. I’ve never really seen this before in this capacity.
Morgan Holmstrom plays the character of sâkowêw and said she was very honored to have been chosen.
“Just being on set surrounded by a bunch of other Métis, I mean there’s nothing like it,” she said. “It’s hard to explain. It literally means everything to me, and it makes me feel much closer to my culture.
Holmstrom, 25, has starred in several productions since she launched her career at age 19, including starring in the Outlander series.
L’Ombre du Rougarou and her role in the production is an opportunity for her to be part of what she hopes will be a more visual representation of her culture within the industry.
“I think a lot of people would agree with me that there wasn’t a whole lot of mixed race on TV that I could watch growing up. To be able to be part of something that is so close to home is very important to me and I think it is important for others to also see that Métis stories can live on screen.
A feeling shared by Waunch, who hopes that the show will continue and that viewers will be able to see sâkowêw continue his journey.
“This is the first step for sâkowêw on a long journey of self-discovery,” he said. “I just hope a show like this continues, and then we can see more Métis stories that have never been shared before. And I hope it will encourage other Métis creators, young and old, to start telling stories as well, in whatever medium suits them.
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