In viewing Huff I felt a great uneasiness. As the play exhibits some very dark issues, such as rape, death and alcohol abuse, I questioned whether these issues should be presented to a presumed mainly “non-Native” (Nolan, 2015, p. 29) audience as I was worried about how these images may be the only ones that the audience becomes familiar with; that the Aboriginal university professors, good parents and partners, youth workers, etc. were not visible in the performance. However I believe this play can be viewed as exposing poison. Through Wind’s survivance story poison exposed is at almost every turn of the story. The poor conditions of some First Nations reservations living conditions are mentioned as well as stating that his brothers are the “products” of the reserve school system (Nolan, 2015, p. 29). By accusing the audience of not caring and often acknowledging the white audience for it there is this accusation of non-Aboriginal Canadians at large. When the non-Native Canadians see on the news that a reserve has poor drinking water or that there continues to be many missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls (higher amount than other women) they can be exhibited through this play as doing nothing to help. They are just witnessing parts of the issues while Huff exposes the poisons that his community and family face and where these poisons came from. Non-Aboriginal Canadians are then called to not just view these issues but do something about it as it is a wider Canadian problem, not an “Aboriginal problem.” This is exhibited by an audience member taking the duct tape and bag off of Wind, though as we see later the individual must also work to survive and ultimately Wind decides to live.
I remember after the show, hoping that Cliff Cardinal (who performs this one-person show) had a great support system of friends and/or family because performing a play like this must take such a toll on a performer; living these events each day over and over would be draining of the spirit, mind and body. Therefore I wish that decolonial love was and is practiced plentifully. Also, in reference to the issue of a mainly non-Aboriginal audience, I hope that the audience walks away with feeling at least some form of responsibility for working on changing these systems that perpetuate these living conditions and issues.
Nolan, Y. (2015). Medicine shows: Indigenous performance culture. Toronto, ON: Playwrights Canada Press.