A five-episode series about a mixed-race Indigenous teen searching for truth
By Jonathan Pabico, Senior Columnist
Canada Day is like any other day in the sense that it’s an opportunity to be more aware and remain informed of recent and past Indigenous culture and history. The question is, where do we begin? We can start anywhere, but for myself, I humbly recommend Jeremy Ratt’s podcast Pieces from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC).
The five-episode series tells the story of and is narrated by Jeremy Ratt, a 19-year-old youth with a mixed racial background of Indigenous and white roots. Ratt delves into a philosophical journey as he speaks with Indigenous artists, icons, social creatives, and even his parents about his heritage and what it ultimately means to be Indigenous.
The podcast covers themes pertinent to other Indigenous youth who also struggle to understand their identities while grappling with the colonial past of their families. Ratt’s messages are timely with universal meanings. At the same time, they address issues related to First Nations peoples.
As we learn more and more about Ratt’s childhood and personal struggles with accepting himself, we also begin to see a little bit of ourselves in realizing that we’re still growing up too. He reveals how difficult—and even frustrating—it has been to embrace his complicated identity because of Canada’s colonial history, yet he yearns so much for closure and healing. His turmoil conveys how we contemplate our racial backgrounds and whether we can truly identify with our ethnicities.
An uplifting part in the podcast is Ratt’s eager discovery of how Indigenous creators like himself also use online platforms to continue their culture from podcasts to social media. This adds a positive perspective on the way the internet has unfortunately been used today. It reminds us just how beneficial digital communication can be when handled respectfully.
Among the topics Ratt covers in his podcast, one subject that will stand out is intergenerational trauma. The idea of how pain and hurt are felt across multiple generations is discussed at length. Whether Ratt is discussing his family’s connections to residential schools or is talking about his feelings on being misrepresented by racial stereotypes, it is clear that intergenerational trauma encapsulates past and current Indigenous issues.
Perhaps one of the most touching moments in Pieces is when Ratt has a heart-to-heart with his parents. His mom and dad reassure him of his identity with their life advice on cultural pride, the unconditional love of family, and how his personhood goes beyond his mixed-race background. These loving conversations are reminiscent of the classic message we hear from our parents now and again that there’s nothing wrong with being yourself.
Listening to the intricacies of Ratt’s experiences, we stand humbled by his struggles. The podcast teaches us that, much like its host, we’re all at different stages of our journeys that take their own time and pace. Ratt’s commentary emphasizes that it is up to us to decide how we shape our present lives in the face of the past.
Ratt’s story and the life lessons he learns from his guests give listeners plenty of takeaways to include in their own lives, identities, and attempts at self-acceptance. He teaches us that by learning to love ourselves more fully, we can better understand our culture and our place in the world. In doing so, we venture into that timeless question: “What does it mean to be me?” Jeremy Ratt’s Pieces podcast is currently available on CBC Listen.