As one of Canada’s most prominent Aboriginal actors, Adam Beach knows the importance of staying true to himself and helping others. He wants those in the Aboriginal community who are struggling to know there’s always hope and strength, especially through storytelling. 

Turning dark into light

It’s no secret that the 41-year-old’s childhood was overshadowed by horrific darkness — his mother was killed when she was eight months pregnant by a drunk driver, and his father drowned only weeks later. But Beach, who is Saulteaux, never let his past overshadow the brightness of his future. 

“I’ve always shared my personal growth and traumas in my life when visiting communities to give hope to the astonishing amount of suicides,” he says. 

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To say his accomplishments are inspiring would be an understatement. While he’s starred in popular films and TV shows like Law and Order: Special Victims Unit, Big Love, and Arctic Air, it’s one Canadian film that helped launch his career and defined him as an actor. Dance Me Outside, which tells the story of life on a reserve in Ontario, celebrates 20 years since its first release. 

Beach plans to mark this occasion in a memorable way — by screening the film for National Aboriginal Day. It’s a sentimental day for Beach. 

“National Aboriginal Day encourages me to continue my learning of traditional teachings and ceremonies that empower my personal growth,” he says. 

The film will screen in Barrie, Ontario, with ticket proceeds going to the actor’s charity, The Adam Beach Film Institute.  

A better life through film

The mission of the charity is to help Aboriginal youth find a better way in life through filmmaking. It provides resources and training for those who dream of pursuing a career in the industry one day. 

Beach is also a founder of Band Width movies, which curates Indigenous and mainstream first-run feature films for Aboriginal communities across North America. 

“When we invest in our Northern communities we will find a resource in each that can stimulate Canada’s economy,” he says. “I’m bringing the movie industry to each community to prove that.”

“I’ve always believed that there is a choice to change life in a better way,” Beach says. “These choices get difficult when you are 800 miles in the wilderness where there is a lack of economic stimulus.”

Maintaining a deep connection

“National Aboriginal Day encourages me to continue my learning of traditional teachings and ceremonies that empower my personal growth”

Despite his success in mainstream entertainment, Beach is still deeply connected to his heritage and recognizes the importance of keeping the culture alive through storytelling and ceremonies. 

When asked about how all Canadians can best celebrate National Aboriginal Day, Beach suggests we “take time to honour our ancestors who fought for our sovereignty,” he says. “We have ceremonies that exist to this day that celebrate our journey of life.”

He encourages all Canadians to get in tune with the history and traditional heritage of the country.

“A lot of support can start by having Canadians learn the law and order of the treaties created,” he says. “Learn of the diverse ethnicity of each Peoples.”

It’s a fitting message for Canadians, especially on National Aboriginal Day, because there will always be bonds to form, as long as there are stories to share.