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Profiles: Jimmy Herman

Jimmy Herman Jimmy Herman was born on the Cold Lake Reserve of the Chipewyan Nation in Alberta. In 1980, Herman moved to Edmonton to study at the Grant MacEwan Community College Native Communications Program. There, he received the Malcolm Calliou Award for his ambition to succeed, and inspire other Aboriginal People to do the same. After graduating from Grant MacEwan, Herman accepted employment with Native Counseling Services of Alberta as a media assistant in the media department. During this time, Herman did some narration work for Native Counseling Services, ACCESS radio, and the National Film Board.

A small part in a CBC Television pilot program called John Cat, based on a W.P. Kinsella book, sparked Hermanís interested in acting, and he decided to leave his position at Native Counseling Services to pursue a career in the performing arts. In April 1989, Herman got his big break when a Los Angeles casting agent chose him for a part in the Kevin Costner film Dances With Wolves. His minor role in the movie, playing a Sioux warrior named Stone Calf, was a boost for Hermanís career, and he never looked back.

Herman has gone on to perform numerous roles in feature films and television series in Canada and the United States, including a role in the Academy Award winning Clint Eastwood western, Unforgiven, and a ten-year stint on the popular CBC Television series North of 60, playing fur trapper Joe Gomba. In 2005, the Dreamspeakers Film Festival Society in Edmonton honoured Herman with a place on the Aboriginal Walk of Fame.

Passionate about his art and the opportunity to be a positive role model in the Aboriginal community, Herman has spoken frequently to Aboriginal youth in schools and at special events, encouraging them to take pride in who they are. He has also in recent years turned towards political activism, seeking diplomatic solutions and bringing his voice to the debate surrounding Aboriginal treaty rights. Keenly aware that his fame could help draw attention to certain political causes, Herman is taking his own good fortune and using it as a tool to better Treaty 6 communities.

Tribal Chiefs Institute of Treaty 6 and Indian and Northern Affairs. In Their Footsteps: Contributions of First Nations People in Alberta. Edmonton: Duval House Publishing, 2001.
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