Perfectly timed for the season of spine-chilling exploits, Tales from the Rez is weaving frightful narratives that might feel quite familiar to those who spent their formative years in Siksika. Trevor Solway, a native of Siksika, is the brains behind this creation. Currently residing and working in Siksika, Solway conceived the idea for this anthology series five years ago, alongside producer Colin Van Loon. The duo imagined a saga of Blackfoot ghost stories, which Solway recalled from his elders during his childhood growing up in Siksika.
The inception of the series originated from The Napi Collective, a film collective that Solway helms in Siksika, with the noble pursuit of cultivating young, talented filmmakers. As a child, his love for shows like Goosebumps, Are You Afraid of the Dark, and Tales from the Crypt knew no bounds. He used to be transfixed by these television shows at his grandmother’s house, while simultaneously absorbing eerie tales from his grandparents and relatives late into the night which revolved around incidents that took place in their community. Solway amalgamated these distinct experiences together, fusing horror anthology genre with the native spirituality and superstition.
Armed with a lucid vision for a horror-comedy anthology situated in Siksika, Solway and Van Loon presented their case at ImagineNATIVE, the most extensive Indigenous film festival in the world which is currently being hosted in Toronto. Despite not winning, the experience energized them and the audience’s positive reaction further fueled their passionate drive to continue developing the project.
The ensuing period of the pandemic proved to be fertile in developing a more comprehensive concept for their series. Solway and Van Loon received a modest development grant from the Indigenous Screen Fund, which significantly benefited their project growth. Inspector Uncle Randolph, serving as the series’ narrator, introduces each story in the anthology, bookending them with his characteristic charm.
An opportunity from APTN for web series ideas presented itself and the duo didn’t hesitate to seize it. When APTN reviewed Tales from the Rez, they were captivated enough to license six episodes, eventually ordering another season for its streaming service, APTN lumi.
The series, which features an impressive cast of Indigenous actors, was filmed on Siksika and in the surrounding communities using an Indigenous crew. This exciting project fills Solway with a sense of accomplishment, especially given the representation of the Blackfoot culture, their language, and their stories in popular culture, a facet that instills pride in young Blackfoot children through their representation in these narratives.
Reflecting on his journey, Solway acknowledges a transformative shift in perception regarding Blackfoot identity. While it was stigmatized during his childhood, he finds solace and pride in altering this demeaning narrative, acknowledging his personal mission of giving a voice to young Indigenous filmmakers in Siksika and maintaining a channel of expression for the children of the region.