N.B. Maliseet artist creates animated show to correct misconceptions of Indigenous culture

“Lil’ Glooscap and the Legend of Turtle Island” is a new animated series created by a New Brunswick Maliseet Artist.

Tara Audibert, series’ creator and member of the Neqotkuk or Tobique First Nation, says it’s about representation.

Audibert says, at a young age, she remembers telling her family she was “afraid of Indians.”

“My family all in the car all burst out laughing like, ‘We're Indians, you're not afraid of us.’”

“And I'm like, ‘No, not you guys. I'm afraid of these Indians that I see in cowboys and Indians on the TV that are going to come and scalp us and all this stuff,’” she said.

Motivated to correct misconceptions in entertainment, Audibert's latest project represents Indigenous people and culture as she knows it.

"Each of the episodes is a story told by a grandmother, and the kids love Glooscap. Glooscap is their hero, kind of like Superman. Anytime they're in trouble, they're like, ‘We need Glooscap to come save us,’ and the grandmother wants them to know that we don't always have to be saved,” Audibert said.

She says the show is also an opportunity to save the first language of the land.

"There are less than 100 speakers left for the Wolastoqey language. And you know, luckily for me, the majority of them are my relatives and my friends,” she said.

One of those fluent speakers is Imelda Perley, an Elder in Sitansisk Wolastoqiyik, or Saint Mary's First Nation.

"They're making new speakers that'll teach the language to others,” said Perley. “But we need more investors and more investment in saving our language.”

Perley translated the script for the show — a time-intensive affair — as one paragraph could take hours because of the evolution of language, she said.

"OK, what does this English word mean, and what's its essence so that I can give that essence from my language and not just anglicize it,” Perley said.

“The character of Summer, for example, how do you say 'OMG' in our language, so it was actually fun to do,” she said.

Perley voiced the grandmother character Meme Muwin.

She hopes the show is eventually shared in schools to entertain and engage kids about Wabanaki culture and language.

“Lil Glooscap and the Legend of Turtle Island” runs on the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network.