Entertainment - Nathaniel Arcand


There is much that can be said of actor, musician, rider and expert martial artist, Nathaniel Arcand. He is known as one of Cananda's most talented Aboriginal actors and has years of experience acting in television shows and movies. We can speak of many accomplishments he's achieved throughout the course of his career, but there is so much more to his story than that. Nathaniel was born on a wintry November day in Edmonton, Alberta 1971 to mother, Marci Arcand and father, Joe Blyan. "My father was a political figure back in those days. I was always proud of my father even though he wasn't a part of my life until I was 5 years old."

He is Nehiyow, more commonly known today as 'Plains Cree' from the Alexander First Nation Reserve.

"I grew up seeing real poverty," says Nathaniel. "My mom use to take us kids to visit our Mooshum (grandfather) alot on the reservation or he would come to pick us up."

Nathaniel recalls how his Mooshum would make him fetch water from the pump down by the little river located a few hundred meters or so behind his house.

"It seemed far when carrying two full pales of water," he shared.

Nathaniel was the first born, which meant he was given all of the responsibilities, "a generational thing amongst men" as he describes it.

"I'm happy I was raised that way because it makes me appreciate what I have."

Nathaniel grew up in the city, but experienced a lot of racism against his people throughout his youth. Although he was always keen to learn about his people and his roots, he never learned his native tongue.

Raised by women, with a father who was not in his life until he was 5-years-old, Nathaniel looked to his uncle and grandfather to be his male role models.

At a young age Nathaniel was introduced to "Chinese Connection" starring Bruce Lee! From that moment, Nathaniel wanted to learn Martial Arts. Throughout the years Nathaniel has learned Tae Kwon Do, Kung Fu and various styles of Martial Arts. "I'm 44 and I'm still dong martial arts 38 years later!" Nathaniel shared enthusiastically.

Eventually, Nathaniel began stealing and fighting. "I got into a lot of fights because I was trying to protect other kids from bullies. At the time I also started stealing because my family was poor. There were things that I wanted to do like play sports and I wanted to travel, but because we were poor I couldn't do any of that."

Between the ages of 13-17 he was in and out of juvenille detention centers, then when he turned 18, he was sent to jail for stealing over $10,000 worth of property. When the cops raided the home his mother left to him, they found various items Nathaniel collected over time.

You get out of life what you put into it!

Because of the severity of his crime, he was facing up to 10 years in prison, but his mother went above and beyond to offer aide to her son. Marci Arcand pulled together many individuals from their community to write letters on Nathaniel's behalf. In total 40 letters were provided to the courts speaking to his character, which was not a reflection of his actions. According to Nathaniel, the judge said, "I should put you in jail for 10 years, or 5 years, or 2 years, but because of all of these people who came here for you, I'm going to give you 9 months!" "That's what opened my eyes to who my real friends and mentors were," he admitted.

He was released 4 months later for Good Behavior. "When I went to jail there was a man I recognized. He was a friend of the family and he told me that if he ever saw my face in prison again, he'd kick my butt," he laughed.

At 19 years old Nathaniel decided it was time to get his life together. He went back to school and eventually earned his G.E.D. It was also at this age that he decided he'd like to give acting a try.

He got his first 'Big Break' when he got a call back for a reoccurring role in the popular CBC series 'North of 60'. The show ran for six seasons. Nathaniel won an AMPIA (Alberta Motion Pictures Association) Award for BEST ACTOR in a Television Series and was also nominated for a Gemini Award for Best Supporting Actor in a Drama for the same episode.

Nathaniel has many more credits to his name like the popular show Heartland, which is currently in its tenth season. He joined the series in 2007 playing the role of "Scott Cardinal". "Honestly I'd love to be able to do more scenes on the show, but I'm still so happy to be on Heartland."

One thing that can absolutely be said of Nathaniel Arcand is that he is certainly not afraid to speak his mind. When asked if he was too nervous to perform during his first 'big show', "North of 60" his response was, "Yes I was nervous, but I wasn't a springchicken either," he laughed again. "I just went in their with confidence and kicked butt!"

Of all his shows and films so far, his favorite role was that of Tonto from the Movie, 'Lone Ranger' because he had a lot of fun with his character.

"I lost 3 really amazing relationships because of alcoholism," claimed Nathaniel. "Most people I know are good people but struggle with alcoholism. At some point you've gotta say enough is enough and grow up. I've been sober now for 3 years and I have to say, it's the best thing I've ever done in my life!" He shared that he felt he wasted a lot of his life and has, on occasion, reflected on everything he could have accomplished in his life and career had he not given in to temptation, but as that old saying goes, "better late than never!"

"I'm really only just growing up now and really seeing what's going on in the world. I'm just so happy that I'm alive and now I'm in the best shape I've been in in a long time. I'm eating healthy, I do my taxes, and I'm working out. Right now I'm just trying to do everything I can for myself and my children so that I can become better and give my family a better quality of life." Now that he has been focusing on putting his life back together, Nathaniel can focus on other goals and dreams that he has like becoming a director. Recently he co-wrote, produced and directed a short film called "Sister, Daughter," which is about murder and missing women. He is planning on submitting this project to all film festivals, especially the American Indian Film Festival in San Francisco this November.

He also has political ambitions like one day running for prime minister so he can actively help to create a government that is accountable for its people, policies and spending with his focus being the welfare of the people.

When he is not off on set somewhere or dreaming of rising the political ranks within the justice system, Nathaniel spends his time with his family. He often takes his three children, "Trisha, Jaden and Griffen Arcand" to his Kookum's (Grandma's) place "just to be around her."

"Originally they were going to let me use a gun, but I was able to talk the producers into letting me opt out of using guns in exchange for a Tomahawk, bow and arrow, one big knife, a bolo and throwing knives. I was actually trying to pay homage to Bruce Lee when I decided I didn't want to use a gun. I figured, if Bruce Lee didn't use guns, then Tonto doesn't use guns."

He spoke to Benny "The Jet" Urquidez, an Apache World Kickboxing Champion, who told him that "if there was Martial Arts back in the 'Old Western' days, it was called 'Indian Wild Fighting' and that we can all Channel Animal Spirits, so I chose 'The Wolf'.

His martial arts skills, ability to become completely emersed in his characters and his athleticism, continues to separate Nathaniel from the flock.

I am the Power to begin. I am Willing to Risk the Lossof what I was and Grow to what I can Become.

But in truth, stardom and fame also comes with its fair share of temptations and challenges. Shorty after beginning his acting careerf, Nathaniel began drinking. Eventually an occasional beer or two became an addiction and created a lot of turmoil in the actors life.

Nathaniel also enjoys taking time to enjoy other fun activities like playing soccer, basketball, football, biking, jogging, hiking and climbing mountains. He is very active, even in the community. He can often be found giving speeches at schools and seminars where he talks about the limelight and nightmares of the entertainment industry.

"I'm never afraid to talk about the nitty gritty details of this business because most young actors only see the attention that comes with success in this industry. Also, most people don't share their downside to being a celebrity, but I want to share those details and my experiences because I want them to know what they're walking in to. A lot of young actors are the one's who fall prey to the pressures of alcohol and drugs in this industry, so talking about that sort of stuff may keep them from going through what I went through, and at the end of the day, looking out for other human beings is what I believe we're all on this earth for," says Nathaniel.

For all aspiring actors our there, Nathaniel has a few words of wisdom for you... "Stay in school. Research. Never stop learning. Be a team player. Be respectful and honorable and stay humble. Save your money. Stay away from drinking and doing drugs, especially in this business because there is A LOT of it and it will interfere with your career and/or end it. Truth be told, it's best to listen to your elders and to know what's what. The smart one ALWAYS listen." "I want to say 'Hi' to my Love Madelaine McCallumto, my children, my grandchildren, my mom, my Kookum, my brothers and sisters, my aunts and uncles, all my relatives, all my friends, all my colleagues and to all of my 'FANS'...MUCH LOVE, MUCH RESPECT! Hiy Hiy (Thank you)." ~Nathaniel Arcand.