Gabriel Daniels had to go back in time for his latest film role.
The actor portrays a Métis veteran also named Gabriel in the recently released Canadian film Stand!
“It was fun to play it and it was an honour to play it,” Gabriel told APTN News.
“I would do it again in a heartbeat.”
The movie musical is based on the Winnipeg General Strike. For six weeks in 1919 strikers left their jobs due to a myriad of reasons including workers wages and unsafe working conditions. This put shops, transit and city services at a standstill. The strike ended in arrests and two deaths.
The movie focuses on the romantic relationship of the two main characters – “an immigrant Romeo & Juliet battle for love and a better future during a time of social upheaval,” according to the film’s official website.
Daniels plays a supporting role as one of the veterans who returns home after the First World War.
Acting has given Daniels the opportunity to walk in someone else’s shoes, even just for a short time.
“I just love being someone else. Even when I’m not acting…when I’m talking to people or watching people I’m always looking and watching people’s mannerisms,” said Daniels.
“I like to mimic people and imitate people.”
Having the role of “Gabriel” is important to the story because Indigenous voices are not always reflected during historical moments in time, explained Daniels.
“Unless it’s a First Nations film I find that we get left out of the equation a lot and our point of view doesn’t really get noticed,” he said.
Daniels has been preparing years for a role like this.
At one point he was trying to release a movie on the life of decorated First Nations soldier Tommy Prince but it never came to fruition.
“All that research I did for Tommy I implemented for this, so it helped me a lot,” said Daniels.
The 44-year-old is no stranger to the spotlight.
He started acting as a teenager but also made headlines when he took on his father’s Supreme Court of Canada case fighting for Métis rights.
His father, Métis activist Harry Daniels, originally launched the case in 1999. He died in 2004 before it went to trial in 2011.
The Daniels Decision came in 2016. It recognized Métis had the same rights as status Indians under the Constitution Act, 1867.
For Daniels, he found similarities with how he had to represent himself in that experience as well as how he carries himself as an actor.
Though he admits he’s no politician, he doesn’t regret stepping into his father’s shoes.
Stand! hits theatres across Canada Nov. 29.