I grew up watching American television learning about the Vietnam conflict and how to dress as though I lived in sunny California, not in wintery Saskatchewan. It was easy for the stories of my hard working but soft spoken neighbours and forefathers to be overshadowed by the colorful and charismatic stories from Hollywood. Saskatchewan was my home but when people would tell me that they found the landscape boring as they drove through or that they had never bothered to stop and visit the province before because it is too boring I would shrug my shoulders and say to myself “that’s okay, I guess you just have to live here to appreciate it.”
And then things started to shift. Along came Wapos Bay, and I learned about Cree-speaking men from Saskatchewan who used to deliver secret messages between the troops in Europe. Wapos Bay has taught my children more about adventuring through the north than I could ever show them. And while American children’s television was teaching the children how to speak in Spanish, Wapos Bay was teaching us Cree. I also noticed that with Corner Gas, our teenagers were more interested in dressing in Rider gear than whatever it is they were wearing in Los Angeles at the time. Corner Gas taught us to have a laugh at ourselves, and to relive some old times because everyone knows a guy like Hank. Little Mosque reminded us that Saskatchewan is a diverse and vibrant place. Wapos Bay, Corner Gas, Little Mosque, 45rpm and The Englishman’s Boy have all shown us that our prairie landscapes – the towering evergreens and countless lakes of rippling water in the north, the waving wheatfields in the south, the contrasting prairie and valleys of Qu’Appelle and the endless blue, blue skies are every bit as beautiful (or in my opinion – more beautiful) than any big city skyline.
These home grown television shows have not only taught me something about myself, or Saskatchewan people about ourselves – they have taught the world about us. These shows have reminded us and everyone else about the roles that we have played in changing the world on a local and an international level. Having our stories told at this level has given us permission to stand up and say that all those folks who plan skip over Saskatchewan are missing out on something special. All of those people who think that we don’t have anything to offer are wrong and we have the proof. Our Saskatchewan filmmakers have shown us and the world that all of our hard working, soft-spoken, salt-of-the-earth members of Saskatchewan have stories, experiences and wisdom worth talking about, laughing about, admiring and sharing with the whole world.
Paula Mead Ricci - former Hazlet resident