Michelle Latimer, director of the CBC Television series Trickster, announced in a Facebook post Monday that she is resigning from the second season of the show, after her Indigenous identity claims were called into question last week.
“It’s with a heavy heart that I am resigning from season 2 of Trickster,” Latimer wrote in the Facebook post.
“When I first read the novels that inspired Trickster, I was struck by the powerful tale of a family coming together to overcome adversity. I envisioned this story as a television series that would celebrate Indigenous talent and amplify Indigenous voices.
“I have listened to my community and feel that stepping away from the production is the appropriate course of action.”
Questions around Latimer’s Indigenous identity claims came under scrutiny after a National Film Board news release said she was of “Algonquin, Métis and French heritage, from Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg (Maniwaki), Que.,” an Algonquin First Nation in Quebec about 120 kilometres north of Ottawa.
CBC News exchanged emails with Latimer over a two-month period asking her to explain the roots of her identity claims. Latimer declined repeated requests for an interview.
Latimer said in the emails that she had believed she had a legitimate connection to Kitigan Zibi, was mistaken, and prematurely claimed a link without first doing the proper research to back up her belief.
Latimer said in the emails she drew her identity from her maternal grandfather’s “oral history” and his connection to the village of Baskatong, a Catholic mission north of Kitigan Zibi, which had a majority French-Canadian population by the time it flooded in 1927 due to the construction of a dam. Census records reviewed by CBC News state Latimer’s grandfather was French-Canadian.
Dominique Ritchot, a genealogist and researcher with expertise in French-Canadian families, reconstructed Latimer’s genealogy independently.
Ritchot’s research found two Indigenous ancestors — Marguerite Pigarouiche and Euphrosine-Madeleine Nicolet — dating back to 1644.
In her Facebook post Monday, Latimer wrote, “I stand by who I am and by my family’s history, but I also understand what is being asked of me. I recognize my responsibility to be accountable to the community and my fellow artists, and that is why I have made this decision.”
Trickster author says she feels like ‘a dupe’
On Friday, two of the show’s producers — Danis Goulet and Tony Elliot — also resigned from the show.
Latimer’s claimed Indigenous identity played a pivotal role in landing the Trickster series, which is based on the Son of a Trickster trilogy of novels by Haisla-Heiltsuk writer Eden Robinson, according to details of how the project grew outlined in a 2018 CBC News story.
At the time, Latimer said she wrote a personal pitch letter to Robinson telling her the first novel was “medicine” and that the journey of the story’s main character, Jared, “reminded me of where I come from and also where I had just been.”
In a Facebook post on Monday, Robinson wrote that she feels “like such a dupe.”
“I don’t know how to deal with the anger, disappointment and stress. As wretched as this moment is, I’d rather know the truth,” Robinson wrote.
The author said she plans on working to regain the respect of her community and that she plans on donating future author royalties from the Trickster series to the Haisla Language Authority for the preservation of the Haisla Language.