Marcel Shackelly

I would like to think that my life, so far, has been interesting, including even before I was born. The few stories that I have of my great grandparents, sound pretty interesting, I wish that I knew more about them, or even what life was like pre-European contact. From what I have been told, my great great grandfather from my father's side, was a trader that used to travel around our territory and into other territories, in order to be able to do that he had to be able to speak 6 different languages.  He had horses that he would use to pack his goods, and he was always crossing mountains, Shexlex, man of the mountains, was his name. When the Indian agents came around and started putting people's names in books, they couldn't write a lot of them, so when they wrote his name, they turned it into Shackelly, my last name.

Both of my parents and all of my aunties and uncles, went to Residential school, where they tried to take the 'Indian' out of them. I have two boys, and couldn't imagine what my grandparents went through, having your children taken away, it must have been really quiet and sad on the reservations when everyone was sent to school. Different people that have been to residential school have their own stories and opinions about what it was like, some people thought that it was worse at home, and other people went through 'hell'. In terms of the goals of taking out the Indian, breaking down people's confidence and faith in themselves appears to have been one goal. My father's goal seemed to be opposite to that, making sure that my siblings and I had the confidence and belief that we could do whatever we wanted to do in life, and really encouraged post-secondary education. I would have done whatever he told me to, and I wanted him to, he would tell me to run up a mountain, and touch the cliff, and come back, without question, I was out the door. The choice of what I wanted to do was always mine though, I was the youngest child, so my older sister and brother were always looking out for me, but I pretty much did what I wanted when I wanted.

My father died when I was 13. When I read the Shana script, I really liked it; the similarities of what the story was about and what I believe in were really close. I can be a fairly deep thinker, and hope that I just didn't project what my story has been like, and that my job acting gives the story justice. When the Director wanted to talk to me the first time, as busy as my life was, I thought, "why tell everyone else that they can do anything they want, and to explore different opportunities and you're not going to do it yourself." In a way I felt I had a duty to go and have the meeting, I am glad that I took the meeting and had the chance to participate in the Shana project. I like to think that I am like the willow bush that I used to make slingshots out of, flexible enough to bend to life's shenanigans, and at other times firm enough to deliver painful snaps commanding respect.