Ghost hunting with an Indigenous twist
by Sara Poitras
The Other Side is an unscripted documentary series that uses a scientific method and tools to connect with the spirits that wander throughout Canada. One day, creator Jennifer Podemski noticed the lack of Indigenous representation among ghost hunting shows on TV, and I guess the rest was history because we now have seven seasons of The Other Side, a ghost hunting show with an “Indigenous twist.”
Indigenous paranormal investigators travel throughout Canada to make contact with “some of the most unsettled spirits within Canada.” Personally, I am here for it. I love and appreciate the way the Indigenous cast and producers incorporate and respect of Indigenous ways of knowing and living.
As an Indigenous person who was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to learn bits and pieces of my culture, one of the biggest teachings is that everything has a spirit. And so, I think the “Indigenous twist” on a paranormal TV series is genius because not only is it a ghost hunting show, it also highlights Indigenous perspectives and teachings regarding the spiritual realm.
The Other Side currently has a cast of three members: Elder Tom Charles, Intuitive Jeff Richards, and Researcher Erin Goodpipe. I appreciate the incorporation of Elder Tom Charles. Elders are typically our Knowledge Keepers and so I appreciate seeing him and his role on the show. Elder Tom Charles uses Indigenous teachings and ceremonies to connect with the wandering spirits.
Jeff Richards highlights the gifts that we are given when we are born. Again, The Other Side highlights an important teaching in Indigenous culture. Scientifically, we may not be able to make sense of what it is we are seeing, hearing, or feeling (some may be diagnosed as schizophrenic). However, in Indigenous cultures, we may look at that seeing, hearing and feeling as a gift given by the Creator. So, the incorporation and the emphasis on Jeff’s intuitive gift, is greatly appreciated by someone who knows the feeling of “energy.”
I also genuinely appreciate the consistent casting of a female because, again, historically, in Indigenous culture, women have always had an important role in the community. And so, I like the consistent role of a female throughout the seasons. I believe Erin Goodpipe to be very knowledgeable and she has gifts of her own, so I believe she is an asset to the show!
As an Indigenous woman who loves paranormal type shows, I cannot say it enough–I appreciate seeing my culture and my teachings within the show. The Other Side consistently emphasizes the Indigenous ways of knowing and living with the incorporation of the use of gifts, the role of an Elder, and the role of a woman. While highlighting the Indigenous culture, The Other Side also beautifully portrays the respects Indigenous cultures have in regards to the spiritual.
Personally, I would give this series a 10/10, and would definitely recommend it to a friend!
Indigenous Communication Arts (INCA) is a multi-media program at First Nations University of Canada. For registration information visit www.incaonline.ca. Follow us on Twitter at @INCA_FNUNIV