an eloquently warped point of view from the tongue of a cartoon character.

Tag: Manitoba

The Italian Pavilion / Folklorama 2016

After what’s happened in Italy this week, I took the time to go through the pictures from #theItalianPavilion that I snapped this year at Folklorama 2016.

My heart breaks for Italy, the people who crumbled with the earthquake, and those who have the strength to rebuild their homes and help others with their bloody, sore hands.


BANG! CRACK! KABOOM! A Manitoba-Made SuperBabe

“I love to see a young girl go out and grab the world by the lapels. Life’s a bitch. You’ve got to go out and kick ass.” —Maya Angelou


In February 1940, Fletcher Hanks introduced the comic book world to Fantomah, an immortal Egyptian woman who could turn into a skeleton-like demon/creature/babe with superpowers.

She would fight evil and crush her enemies, all while adorning a luscious head of blonde curls, and perfect cat-eye liner. Fantomah was portrayed as a goddess, and in some circles, is thought to be the first female superhero.

Slayyy, Fantomah, slayyyyyyy.

In fact, she was originally pretty hardcore: Fantomah used her vast magical powers to sentence her enemies to bizarre and brutal punishments. For instance, in Jungle Comics #7, she transforms a band of greedy diamond miners who oppressed the natives into one man, then sends that man to an “unfound world” to be enslaved by hideous green fanged monsters, then sent into a pit of cobras, and then absorbed into a wall by a giant hand”, but other artists soon changed her from a skeleton-like demon/creature/babe to an ordinary human adventurer.

Fast-forward to a few months later, and female anti-heros start being sketched into existence.

The original Black Widow (not the Scarlett Johansson kind), an assassin/weapon of Satan, is premiered as a kick-ass force to be reckoned with, who slays criminals, then sends them to hell.

Following suit in the superhero-babe category was Wonder Woman, created by William Moulton Marson and his wife Elizabeth for All Star Comics #8.

“America’s woman of tomorrow should be made the hero of a new type of comic strip. By this, I mean a character with all the allure of an attractive woman, but with the strength also of a powerful man,” said Marston.“There isn’t enough love in the male organism to run this planet peacefully.”

From there, characters like Sun Girl, Miss America, Black Canary, and Phantom Lady began to take shape; all of them women, and all destroying evil with a flip of their hair, and a swift-kick to the jaw.


But there was an obvious pattern; a delicate mould that had developed– the majority of the heroines were white, thin, and conventionally gorgeous, standing tall and picturesque with flowing hair and toned, glistening gams.

There were very few women of colour flying around the superhero universe.

Black female characters only began to appear after the Civil Rights Movement, one of the most notable being Storm from the X-Men comics. Since being drawn into creation, the powerful, weather-controlling character has been depicted in Hollywood films by stunning women like Halle Berry, and featured in countless television spinoffs and comics.

Besides Storm, though, there was very limited range of women of colour in the superhero world, and even then, a lot of people criticized the representation of black super-heroines as one-dimensional, angry, aggressive stereotypes.

Actually, it wasn’t until 2013 that a little company by the name of Marvel would mainstream a woman of colour in the new role of a dashing, daring super-chick.

Cue: Ms. Marvel, aka, Kamala Khan, a 16-year-old, second-generation Pakistani-American Muslim girl who lives in New Jersey.

Kamala Khan (Ms. Marvel), second left, with her family Aamir, father Yusuf, mother Disha and friend Bruno. (source)

Then in March, 2014, a teenage Cree superhero hailing from Moose Factory, Ontario, was drawn to life by artist Jeff Lemire. The character, a girl named Miiyahbin (alias: Equinox) joined Justice League United. She was the first Aboriginal female superhero introduced into mainstream comics, her powers stemming from the Earth and changing seasons.

Creating a teenage female superhero was interesting to me because, generally, most superheroes are white males. We need diversity and we need different personalities,” Lemire said in an interview with CBC. “You need very distinct voices for personalities on the team or else you just start writing the same character in a different costume.”

And in her own way Sonya Ballantyne agrees, because to the West of Lemire, in a little town called Gimli, there was a pixie-haired Aboriginal girl with a kick-ass vision, who was about to pitch an award-winning short film at the Gimli Film Festival and win a $10,000 prize.

Crash Site centres around Kaley, an Aboriginal girl coping with her parent’s death, who is inspired by a superhero named Thunderbird that she discovers after wandering into a comic book store. Thunderbird (also known as Maggie), is a young Native girl trying to find out where she belongs after her grandma reveals that she was found in a crashed spaceship.

So in a little town called Gimli, a passionate, pixie-haired Aboriginal girl pitched a short film called Crash Site, destroyed the competition, and became the first-place winner of RBC Emerging Filmmaker’s epic tournament.

Just look at that toothy grin~ second from the left (source)

Sonya Ballantyne is a 29-year-old Cree dame from The Pas, Manitoba, who spent most of her life living between Grand Rapids (her dad’s reserve) and Easterville, Manitoba (her mom’s reserve). “Grand Rapids is the sort of place you drive through when you’re going somewhere else,” adds Ballantyne.

When she was 17, Ballantyne became the first member of her family to move to Winnipeg, and most recently, she finished a degree in film making from the U of W. Before that, she graduated with an honours degree in social psychology from the University of Manitoba.

“I always wanted to leave, and university was the best way. I was never happy being contained on the reserve,” says Ballantyne. “I never felt at home. When I moved to Winnipeg, even though the first few months were hard, I felt like I truly belonged. 

Since her move, the feisty, superhero-loving, self-proclaimed super-nerd has dominated in film and all other areas of her professional and personal life, and though gaining confidence was challenging for her, Ballantyne found her own niche and path to follow in order to grab a slice of self-love.

From slaying at short film pitch competitions, to starting her own production company, it’s hard to believe that Sonya Ballantyne isn’t an actual superhero.


… Though looks can be deceiving.

“Body positivity is loving yourself even if you’re criticized for it. Nothing is scarier to a douche canoe than a woman who loves herself, so being positive becomes your shield against a society that is trying to make you feel bad so you can buy their product.

No dice, Victoria’s Secret. No dice.

As long as my pixie hair game is on point, I’m confident. As a teenager, I wasn’t allowed to cut my hair past my shoulders. When I finally got to cut my hair the way I wanted, I was so much happier. I never feel as pretty as I do when my hair is freshly shorn.

Every time I leave the Aveda Institute (where I get my hair cut all the time, so shout out to them! 80 RORIE STREET IN THE EXCHANGE) with my hair super short, I feel like such a bad ass.

I am also not afraid to try new things in regards to my style. As I near 30, I think I finally found the formula that makes me feel good 95% of the time. My only regret is that I wasted so much time not liking myself. 

I am extremely positive/confident when it comes to talking about my movies, as I am a nerd, and as a nerd that means you tend to love things obsessively. I used to be so embarrassed about my excitement and energy for the things I love, and I used to be shushed about it and told to tone it down.

Now that I’m making movies, everything is amazing, and I speak about it like it is with no holding back. I am thankful for that. I still get shushed, but I don’t care. I’ll speak loudly and proudly.

Embracing my culture has helped me feel powerful. I come from a long line of people who have faced hardships that would have turned anyone into a cynic. It’s like that Queen song from Highlander with the lyric, ‘I have inside me blood of kings.’

I do.

Every single person that came before me has contributed to the ass-kicking, anti-racist, anti-misogeny confident loud mouth I am.

A white man once told me that I’d never amount to anything because I was an Indian and a girl. I was three. Events like this made me so ashamed of my culture; ’cause we were the ones who lived on the side of the river with bad houses, bad dogs running around wild, and the cops coming to break up fights. But I saw my parents using their anger at being treated so badly because they were Native to fuel better things for themselves. So I did it, too.

I embraced being Native, and showed so many racist people that I could fuck them up academically, creatively, and personally. I didn’t succced despite my being Indian, I succeeded because of it, and used every bad thing that I ever faced to chase after the things I wanted.

Native people are like the real life version of Green Lanterns: let those who worship evil’s might beware my power.


Every single feature I share with my mother is my favourite feature. Her nurses call me ‘Gladys Jr.’, cause I look scarily like her. As a kid, I thought my mother was the most beautiful person in the world, and would get all bashful and full of disbelief when people told me I looked like her. Now, I like being told we look alike.

There’s a quote from Sansa Stark in Game of Thrones where she tells herself, ‘I must be as strong as my lady mother.’ I use that statement a lot, too. My lady-mum is the most hardcore person I know.

If you’re thinking of moving to Winnipeg from a reserve, don’t be afraid to do it.

Bilbo Baggins was afraid to leave home, and look what happened to him when he did! Besides, I’ve lived in Winnipeg for over 10 years, and my parents still think I’m going to be stabbed right outside my door.

As another suggestion, find your tribe. Once I found other Native people at the U of M going through the same thing I was, I felt like I belonged. Plus, white people don’t tend to get our humour.

Lastly, ignore the doubters. One of the biggest things I was mocked about back home was how I was trying to be a white girl. I never saw how wanting something better for yourself made you a wannabe white person. Success is not just the domain of white people, and the quicker that internalized racism stops on the rez’, the better.

As for people looking to make films in Winnipeg, realize your limitations. You’re not going to make Transformers with Winnipeg Film Group equipment. And again, find your tribe. I work with some of the best people who are my closest friends who wanted to help me realize my dreams with film, and had the same vision for the stories we wanted to tell; and be creative! There’s more than one type of story about Native folks, and it’s time we tell them.

(Any final thoughts?)
Love more, laugh more, and don’t be so scared.

Oh! And, a word of warning: if a friend tells you the best way to shape your brows is to shave them, DON’T BELIEVE HER.

I spent a whole summer walking around like Bono with huge sunglasses on as I shaved half of my eyebrow off from nose to middle and it took three months to grow back sufficiently.”


Though this 29-year-old superhero has yet to garnish her cape, with the power of story-telling, film, and a constant drive for excellence, Sonya Ballantyne continues her adventure to be body positive.

Foxy Hockey Hullabaloo


“‘One word: ‘Fight.’ Anyone can do it when it feels good. When you’re hurting, that’s when it makes a difference, so you have to keep fighting.” -Erin Cafaro, 2008 rowing Olympic gold medalist

When I graduated from high school, my class had its celebration at the Fairmont.

It was a Moulin Rouge themed, feather-laden, wine-fest, with an after-hours chicken finger bar, and one constipated parent who complained about the theme being too inappropriate and promiscuous.

Even though no one gave the Les Mis theme a chance.

Halfway through the night, I managed to successfully sneak into a few photo booth pictures, drink the leftover wine on most tables, and dance hard enough to make my feet gush blood while the DJ spun his sick beats.

It was nearing midnight, and I decided that I needed a few more decent memories before I trudged off to my eventual grave in the cemetery that was university.

I noticed my friend Amanda going into the photo booth with her boyfriend at the time, and as they kissed and canoodled for the camera’s timer, I poked my head in through the back panel.

Now, I honestly don’t know why it was so funny, but when the picture printed, I laughed so fucking hard that I peed my pants.

Screen shot 2014-11-23 at 3.54.42 PM

All that table wine may have been a contributing factor.

I was wearing my favourite pair of neon orange, camera-covered panties, which I decided I needed to remove immediately, and so I left a ballroom of floor-length gowns and tuxedos to take off my underwear.

When I got into the bathroom, I wrapped them in a paper towel, washed my hands 4 times, then proceeded to figure out what to do with my favourite pair of underwear. After all, I couldn’t just throw them away.

They were lucky. They were the only reason I had passed my biology exam. They were the only reason I had the courage to go out and meet people after an exhausting breakup with my ex-boyfriend.

These underwear had magical powers, and whether they smelled like pee or not, I was NOT just going to abandon them in a hotel washroom trashcan.

I’m not even lying when I say that this would be a more appropriate send off.

After literally thirty seconds of thought, and realizing that sticking them in my purse would be a super gross idea, I decided I would stick them in the sick room, and get them just before the night was over (by the way, the sick room is a place that you go if you get too drunk and can’t function. Or if you get, like, sick, I guess. But no one catches a damn cold at grad, lemme tell ya’.)

When I was in the room, however, my plans were quickly thwarted, seeing as the only thing in the small space were two stripped down cots on thin metal framing. I shoved the underwear under the bed’s wiring, adjusted the mattress, and just as I was about to shut the door behind me, I noticed someone crying on the leather armchair outside.

She was in a royal blue dress similar to mine, with one strap going over a shoulder, the other bare (except hers wasn’t an eye-gouging shade of pink). Her makeup ran down both cheeks, and though her manicured hands were polished and prim, her fingers were spotted from wiping away tears.

When I asked her what was wrong, she let out a louder sob, people around us turning their heads to see the source of the noise. I hesitated momentarily before leading her into the sick room, shutting the door behind us.

Apparently a girl we graduated with had snubbed her in a cruel display of ostrich feathers and Mean Girls-esuqe cattiness.

I tried to comfort her, telling her that the girl was pretty much stuck in her ways like a Louboutin in wet grass, that she should ignore her behaviour that reeked like a middle school sock-hop, but the girl in the blue dress kept crying.

After about 20 minutes of talking, I stopped my feel-good ramble. The scent had hit my nostrils, and I was suddenly hyper-aware that my new friend was sitting on top of my pee-soaked underwear.

“I pissed my pants earlier. Then I shoved them under the bed you’re sitting on.”

I paused.

“I’m sorry.”

Cailey Hay looked up at me from between her fingers. She let out a loud laugh.
Then she told me she wished we could have been friends earlier in the year, which was a weird reaction to someone telling you they pissed themselves in public.


Pictured: Head of Hockey Hotness

Cailey Hay is a 21-year-old hockey player from OakBank, Manitoba, but I met her when she came to the hallowed halls of kilts and cliques.

Although we weren’t close then, we reconnected after realizing my piss-pants antics were a pretty solid bonding mechanism. In my eyes, she has always been an outspoken, confident woman who dominates on the rink, and connects with just about everyone she meets.

And no matter where we find ourselves, Cailey Hay turns heads, whether it’s hitting up MAW’s beer garden, or going to Whiskey Dix with me and her ex-boyfriend’s mom. Part of it is because she’s a babe and a half, but the other part is because of the level of confidence she exudes.

Cailey Hay is the perfect example of a Manitoba-grown, hockey-playing beauty who has worked hard at loving herself, despite life’s crooked obstacles. Being a well-rounded teammate and athlete is just one side of her. Being a daring, fiery, fashionable smoke show, is another.

As she attempts to balance all areas of her life on the edge of her skate, and be body-confident on and off the ice, this University of British Columbia powerhouse does her best to take on all challenges headfirst.


But at least she’s wearing her helmet.

I think that body positivity is having a healthy relationship between your brain and your body. It’s just like any other relationship that you would have with another human being, except the majority of the contact is done in your own mind.

This all kind of hit home when I was schmoozing the Internet and found a quote saying, “Don’t say things to yourself that you wouldn’t say to others.”

Everything clicked.

People think that it’s okay to constantly bash themselves, and end up defining themselves through the vision of others.

In reality, you would never EVER go to your friends, or significant others, and say, “hey, your cellulite makes me nauseous,” “you are truly the ugliest person I’ve ever seen,” or “you’re a cow” (and if you do, please stop, now).

And yet, people don’t hesitate for a second when saying these things to themselves. There is such a disconnect between sharing happiness and kindness with your friends and family, and sharing these same loving thoughts with yourself.

Beyonce, who I love so much, said in her song Pretty Hurts:

When you’re alone all by yourself,

And you’re lying in your bed,

Reflection stares right into you,

Are you happy with yourself?

You stripped away the masquerade,

The illusion has been shed,

Are you happy with yourself?

Are you happy with yourself?


At the end of the day, all you have is yourself. No matter who comes and goes in your life, you are the only one that will be present for every second of every day.

Playing hockey is the main reason I have any confidence at all. As opposed to individual sports, hockey requires so many different types of players to create a successful team.

Unlike men’s hockey, where all players have a fairly generic body type (tall, muscular- but toned- and bordering on thin), female hockey players come in all different shapes and sizes.

If there’s a female body-type you can think of, you can literally find it in our dressing room. This kind of physical diversity reflects the diversity of skills that make up our team. 

Everyone brings different strengths (and weaknesses) to the table, and even though no individual is perfect, together we create this flawless mosaic.

Being permanently attached to a team of women who stick together through thick and thin, through defeat and success, is the greatest gift in the world. It’s because of this atmosphere that I have experienced support in its purest form.

With competition as the base, these relationships extend beyond our sport to our everyday lives. Meaning, at the end of the day, hockey or no hockey, I will always have a family to back me up, just as I will always be there for them.

My team IS my confidence. 

As for my favourite physical feature… I would have to say my eyes.

I think it’s because every time I look in a mirror, I see my parents. With my father having green eyes, and my mother having blue eyes, I was gifted this odd and and beautiful combination of the two.

I also like that the colour seems to change with the clothes I wear, or with the lighting of a room. It’s fun to be a chameleon of sorts, having a mysterious part of you that can’t be defined.


At the end of the day, hockey is a sport that seriously EVERYONE can love.

So many people who have never played watch the NHL on television for literally fifteen minutes, and they’re like, ‘This is stupid. Shoes with blades on them? Nah, that isn’t really my cup of tea…’

Well let me tell you, it’s so much more then that.

There are so many leagues around, especially considering we live in Canada, that provide open ice and games for all skill levels.

Even my mother, at 50, plays hockey occasionally. Anyone can do it! My personal favourite thing to do is to wait until Christmas time, and hit the outdoors rinks with family and friends.

If you’re not so much into playing the actual game, and just want to strap the skates on, it’s a really amazing experience to skate the river at The Forks in Winnipeg (also in at Christmas time).”

This is how this head of hockey hotness stays body positive.