The new six-part miniseries follows a young Indigenous woman as she reconnects with her past and finds her birth family.
|Actor Ellyn Jade, whom you might recognize from Letterkenny, plays Bezhig’s mother Patti in Little Bird. (Photograph: Crave)
|(CHATELAINE) June 8, 2023 — Little Bird, a new miniseries, has just hit Crave and APTN Lumi—and it’s a must-watch. The series follows Esther Rosenblum, a talented law student engaged to a white doctor. During her engagement party, she overhears her fiancé’s family’s racist gossiping about her heritage and finds out that she was taken from her birth family in Saskatchewan and adopted into a Jewish family from Montreal as part of the Sixties Scoop. Esther, who learns that her birth name is Bezhig Little Bird, then leaves her home for Saskatchewan in hopes of reconnecting with her birth family and heritage.
The six-episode miniseries has just started streaming on Crave and APTN Lumi, with new episodes coming out every Friday. The first two episodes are already out. Here’s why you should be watching Little Bird.
The show unflinchingly examines an oft-overlooked over chapter in Canada’s history
The Sixties Scoop, which actually occurred from the late-1950s to mid-80s, refers to the period of Canadian history during which Indigenous children were routinely and forcibly removed from their families by the Canadian government. These children were typically then adopted into middle-class white Canadian families. Oftentimes, they would lose their identities and weren’t able to reconnect with their birth families.
Taking Indigenous children away from their communities wasn’t a new thing—since Canada’s inception, Indigenous families have been torn apart by the residential school system. In an interview with the Toronto Star, actor Darla Contois, who plays Bezhig, says that “every Indigenous person in this country was affected by the Sixties Scoop or by residential schools.”
Unfortunately, like so many of the horrific policies enacted by the Canadian government throughout this country’s history, the Sixties Scoop has largely been overlooked. Little Bird is the first major TV production to address this atrocity and it doesn’t shy away from cruel details, like the police brutality that was employed when seizing children from their families and the heartbreaking advertisements that were placed in newspapers in order to find adoptive parents for stolen children.
It illustrates the long-reaching effects of the policy on a personal level
The show flashes back and forth between Bezhig’s journey to rediscover her culture in the ’80s, and her happy childhood with her birth parents and siblings—as well as the immediate fallout from her and her siblings’ apprehension by Child Protection Services. “By having the stories in tandem we got to telescope time and show that these moments that occurred when Esther was a child changed the whole course of her life,” says co-creator Hannah Moscovitch in an interview with Variety.
The cast is stacked with new talent
Little Bird’s primarily Indigenous cast is led by Contois, a Cree-Saulteaux actor, who has worked in theatre for over 15 years. Contois’ performance is stunning: she carries the emotional weight of discovering her past, bringing the audience along on Bezhig’s journey.
Other cast members include Letterkenny’s Ellyn Jade, who portrays Bezhig’s mother Patti, and Joshua Odjick (who won a Canadian Screen Award for his role in 2021’s Wildhood) as Bezhig’s father Niizh. Thirteen-year-old Tayton Mianskum makes his acting debut as Bezhig’s brother in the flashback scenes. Activist and actress Michelle Thrust (Blackstone, Arctic Air) also appears in the series, as does her daughter Imajyn Cardinal, who plays Bezhig’s sister Dora.
There’s tons of Indigenous representation behind the camera, too
Well-known Indigenous creatives behind the camera include showrunner and co-creator Jennifer Podemski (who has appeared in Reservation Dogs and Degrassi: The Next Generation and who has produced movies like Empire of Dirt) and Elle-Maijia Tailfeathers and Zoe Hopkins, who each direct three episodes.
Little Bird is streaming now on Crave and APTN Lumi. New episodes drop every Friday.
By Rebecca Gao
Updated June 8, 2023