Frog Lake First Nation woman hired as etalk’s first Indigenous host

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When people tune in to watch CTV’s daily entertainment show this coming January, they will be greeted by the program’s first full-time Indigenous host.

Michaella Montana announced on social media on Dec. 13 that she got the gig to be the full-time co-host on CTV’s entertainment talk show etalk.

Etalk, it’s reached such a large demographic of people,” Montana said. “So to have somebody that’s Indigenous for other Indigenous youth and women and people to look up to and see themselves in the mainstream television, it feels like history in the making.”

Montana, centre in the blue dress, and the rest of the etalk team attending the Canadian Academy Awards, where the etalk special Impact and Influence: A Truth and Reconciliation Special, which she co-produced and co-hosted with Tyron Edwards, won an award. (Submitted by MIchaella Montana)

Montana is from Frog Lake First Nation in Alberta, but grew up mostly in Saskatchewan, spending a majority of her childhood in Biggar. She said she was one of only a few Indigenous students in the town.

“Growing up, I experienced a lot of that bullying and racism for being Indigenous,” she said, adding that hurt her self-esteem. 

When she was 11, her mom decided to step in and sign her up for some self-esteem classes through a modelling agency, which in turn led to a recommendation for her to try acting.

That led to her first role in the Canadian supernatural television drama Rabbit Falls, which in turn led her to host the APTN television series The Other Side. 

“That was my very first experience doing hosting and I fell in love with it,” she said.

WATCH | Sask. woman says it’s surreal to become first First Nations host of etalk: 

Sask. woman says it’s surreal to become first First Nations host of etalk

Michaella Montana, who is Cree, Irish and Lakota, grew up in Biggar, Sask. She says she’s achieved her goal to become the first Indigenous host on CTV’s etalk program.

Eventually she felt like she’d learned everything she could in that role.

“I just felt like it was time to let go and open the door for something else to come. So I said, OK, I’m going to quit the show and I’m going to put it out into the universe, that I’m going to be the first [Indigenous] host on etalk.”

Montana became a freelance journalist and pursued her goal with a passion. She got a chance to audition for the show as a full time host to cover a maternity leave.

She said she still sees herself as one of the only Indigenous people in the room when she looks around her in her new professional space. 

“I just want to do my best to to change that, because I want to see more Indigenous people working in the same environment.”

person is standing tall with dark short dress and long wavy hair.
MIchaella Montana worked with etalk on special projects for the past three years. (Submitted by Michaella Montana)

Jennifer Podemski is a writer, director and producer who runs a not-for-profit called the Shine Network, which is dedicated to advocacy and training and mentorship for Indigenous women in the screen sector.

The two women first met when a then-12-year-old Montana first auditioned for Podemski’s Rabbit Fall.

Podemski said she saw something of herself in the young actor and took Montana under her wing, connecting on a personal level.

She credits Montana’s drive for allowing her to become the first Indigenous woman to host the entertainment talk show. Podemski said she’s “thrilled” for her friend’s success.

“I think what she can bring to it is the fact that she’s a great writer and she’s studied and understands the complexity of the things that our communities are dealing with,” said Podemski. “She knows how to articulate those in sort of bite size portions that are digestible by the masses and has a way of really representing important things.”

Montana said she hopes to use her role on etalk to be able to showcase more Indigenous talent all across Turtle Island throughout the year, not just for special events.

“I’ve been talking a lot about the work that it’s taken to get here and to get this position, but the real work starts now,” she said.

“I’m in this position to open the door and keep the door open for more people to come in after me. So there is a bit of a pressure to make sure that I’m not the last.”

WATCH | New Indigenous etalk host from Sask. speaks about bullying, racism and domestic abuse: 

New Indigenous etalk host from Sask. speaks about bullying, racism and domestic abuse

As the first First Nations host of CTV’s etalk program, Michaella Montana of Saskatchewan hopes she can inspire other women to overcome abuse.

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