Gordon Winter is an RCMP hero, a life-long champion of First Nations rights and a bigot. This play searches for the source of one man’s racism, to answer why one man who’s fought oppression his entire life would want to oppress others.
The play was inspired by David Ahenakew, the former national chief of the Assembly of First Nations, who justified the Holocaust while addressing chiefs in a public meeting.
Persephone Theatre in Saskatoon produced the play to kick off their 2010/11 Deep End series and it was remounted in Ottawa as part of the National Arts Centre’s Prairie Scene. Del Surjik directed it and screen legend Gordon Tootoosis starred as Gordon Winter. The ensemble cast showcased the enormous talent of Saskatoon and Vancouver’s acting scene: Robert Benz, Joshua Beaudry, Keisha Haines, Kim Harvey and Jamie Lee Shebelski.
Patrick Langston of the Ottawa Citizen wrote that “racism is hateful, corrosive and self-perpetuating is hardly news. A play which captures that self-evident truth in fresh, robust and frequently funny fashion, however, is something unexpected. That’s especially so when the play poses difficult questions about the complexity of a man’s heart, our rush to judge what’s there, and the extent of our own, unspoken prejudices.” Read more here.
Laurie Fyffe from Capital Critics Circle wrote, “Kenneth T. Williams has a sharp, irreverent humour… [and] Tootoosis’ Winter remains a conundrum; a man you could almost make up with, until he opens his mouth. It’s the beauty of that balancing act that makes his character so frustratingly fallible.” Read more here.
Here’s an interview that Gordon Tootoosis did with CBC Radio in Ottawa concerning the play.
Update – April 10, 2012
Scirocco Drama will release Gordon Winter on April 20th. You can pre-order the book on the Chapters/Indigo site or on Amazon.