Cherish Violet Blood on Deer Woman
The Skinny speaks to the actor Cherish Violet Blood about her role as Lila in Deer Woman
A report named Reclaiming Power and Place, which was compiled over more than two and a half years, was recently released investigating three decades of missing and murdered Indigenous women in Canada. The report, by the National Inquiry into Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls, determined that 'state actions and inactions rooted in colonialism and colonial ideologies' were a key driving force in the disappearance of thousands of Indigenous women. For years, activists and Indigenous peoples have pushed for a government inquiry into the high number of Indigenous women who have either gone missing or been killed.
Deer Woman is a startling portrayal of just one of these stories. It’s a solo-warrior-woman work starring Cherish Violet Blood as Lila, a missing girl’s sister and a skilled hunter and veteran of war, who finds the perfect opportunity to avenge her sister’s murder.
“I t took some time to get the words into the body. I’m supported by an incredible team. We make sure we check in a lot to make sure I’m not carrying the story home, because the story is a really hard one to tell,’’ says Blood, when asked about the emotional toll the part must take on her.
It's obvious from speaking to Blood how passionate she is about the role. She suggests that the play empowers Indigenous women as opposed to victimising them. "This story is being told by Indigenous people, performing an Indigenous story," she explains. "Its not a settler telling our story for us.’
"In this piece, I’m not the victim. It was strange for me at first – which is weird because it should be celebrated. It was unchartered territory for me; as an actor, I usually play a character that is being raped or killed, as this is the subject material I always get. Unfortunately it is always a sad story, and is usually not written by Indigenous people.’’
Blood thinks the Edinburgh Festival Fringe is an important platform from which to share this story. ‘“The world is unaware of what is happening to Indigenous women and two-spirit people in Canada. There is a lot of stuff hidden by the Canadian government," she tells me. "Just recently they released the missing and murdered Indigenous women report to the prime minister, and they refused to call it genocide which is ridiculous as it’s thousands upon thousands of murdered and missing women. They are only counting from a specific time.’’
How does Blood feel the show will be received in Edinburgh? ‘’I hope audiences will come into the show with an open mind.” she says. “This story is about Canada’s treatment of the Indigenous people. This is one little part of this hidden story in North America. I want audiences to leave with questions.’’
Deer Woman is at Canada Hub, King’s Hall, 31 Jul-24 Aug (not 5,12,19), 2.30pm, £11 (£9)