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Actor Johnny Depp gifted Wolastoq T-shirt from New Brunswick – Global News

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Bethany Tremblay had VIP tickets to Jeff Beck and Johnny Depp’s concert in Toronto and she knew exactly what she wanted to do when she met them.
“I’m going to bring Jeff Beck and Johnny Depp T-shirts that have my tribe’s name on it or logo,” she said.
Read more: Wolastoqey language school to open in Fredericton, first of its kind for N.B.
Tremblay, whose spiritual name is Nipayiw Monoqan, is from Neqotkuk (Tobique) First Nation and her father is Wolastoq Grand Chief Ron Tremblay. He gifted her some T-shirts, one that has a particular significance to New Brunswick’s longest river.
That river is the St. John River, which was originally known as the Wolastoq.
The T-shirt was designed by Indigenous artist Shelley Solomon. It is the word Wolastoq in white, with the St. John River crossed out below it, and a canoe and paddle above it, encompassed in a blue circle.
In a video, Tremblay presents the T-shirt to Depp, who can be heard learning to pronounce Wolastoq and describing the design as beautiful. He hugged her at the end of the video, which has gone viral on Facebook.
“It’s a traditional custom to give thanks and to never come up empty-handed, especially when someone is transferring their energy with you,” she said from New York. “The experience was amazing.”
Tremblay was able to speak with Jeff Beck over the course of a couple of hours and meet Depp backstage.
“What an amazing human being he (Beck) is,” she said. “He’s very interested in ceremony. Then I got to meet Johnny Depp and give him the shirt.”
It wasn’t until the next morning that she got the photo of Depp donning the T-shirt.
“To be seen, to be heard, to feel that genuine interest from them,” she said. “People are waking up, people are starting to realize that it’s time for change. It’s time for Indigenous people to reclaim the original names of things as well as (being) able to celebrate the customs.”
Shelley Solomon designed the T-shirt as part of her education through Mi’kmaq-Wolastoqey Centre at the University of New Brunswick campus in Fredericton.
She said she was brought to tears when she saw and heard Johnny Depp in the video posted by Tremblay.
“He was like saying it … the way he said and ‘oh, it’s beautiful’ and then he puts it on and takes a picture with it, you know, he could have tossed it aside, wore it another day but he actually put it on right on. I thought that was awesome. I guess she explained the meaning behind the shirt so he kind of supported that.”
For both Tremblay and Solomon, it was an unforgettable memory but speaks to something larger, which is truth and reconciliation in Canada.
“It just opens up the door more for New Brunswickers, right,” Solomon said. “Somebody asked me why we want the name changed and I said it was never changed to us, it’s always been the Wolastoq.”
There is a lot of work to do on the path toward truth and reconciliation, Tremblay said, but a moment of positivity like the one she shared with her community and Johnny Depp are important.
“With these movements, with reclamations and revitalization of our culture, our ceremonies, our language, it can be taxing on the spirit, and so anything that can bring hope and can lighten that fire to keep going that is all I wanted to provide the people of my community,” she said.
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