Character Brainstorms

aanikoobijigan na GH  Listen

  1. an ancestor
  2. a great-grandparent
  3. a great-grandchild

aanikoobijigan sg; aanikoobijiganag pl; aanikoobijigaans dim; Stem: /aanikoobijigan-/

Aanikoobijigan aka ‘Nico’ (they/them?) is a mystery. This person is very androgynous in appearance. They don’t speak much but laugh a lot. Are they a student? They seem familiar but no one’s sure from where. They seem to pop up and disappear at the oddest times. There’s a twinkle in their eyes and it’s hard to tell where they’re from or how old they are.

Character: Marla

Marla (she/they)

(draft 1) The tape is her (artifact) thing. She’s a Pisces, vegan. She likes music and paddle boarding. Grew up with her German mom but dad was Pottawatomi, residential school survivor. From London ON, moved to TO for school. She has OCD and depression. Studying midwifery. She likes reading lots: Sylvia Plath, Chuck Pilahniak, Lewis Carrol, Mark Twain. Indigenous authors like Joshua Whitehead, Cherie Dimaline, Alicia Elliot. She likes comics, manga, and doodling. She’s nostalgic. Listens to jazz, old blues, 80’s punk; music snob but wouldn’t be caught dead in a Ramones shirt. Alternates between extreme cleaning and absolute chaos. Loves her black cat, Pierogi. Hates the system. Sex positive but asexual due to history of abuse. In therapy but doesn’t feel like it’s helping.

(draft 2)

  • Marla is a second year midwifery student, a vegan, Pisces and into astrology and crystals.
  • She has a Ukranian dad and her mom is Pottawatomi, she’s a residential school survivor.
  • Marla has OCD and depression. In therapy but doesn’t feel like it’s helping.
  • She’s from a town in southwest Ontario and moved to Toronto for school.
  • She likes reading, comics, old music and drawing. Loves her black cat, Pierogi.
  • Hates the system. Sex positive but asexual.
  • 7:30am Your alarm goes off. You barely register it at first but manage to press snooze. This goes on for almost an hour, until you realize the snooze function will soon stop and you will miss her 9am Zoom class.
  • Do you: let it go, no point in dragging yourself to your least favourite class?
  • Or: drag yourself out of bed, go into robot mode?


Choice: Robot Mode

  • You log in to class and within the first fifteen minutes the Prof brings up the residential school children. Then puts you on the spot to speak to the issue. You feel strongly about it but are caught off guard and frustrated by the request.
  • Do you: speak your opinion, beginning with the fact that you can’t speak for all Indigenous folx?
  • Or: state that you’re not prepared to speak to the issue at this time. Then add that you don’t want to be called on to speak for every Indigenous issue?


Choice: Slumber Mode

  • You have a disturbing dream again about residential school children. You write a few notes in your dream journal. Then begin your day. There’s some time to work on a paper before your first (next) class. But the dream niggles.
  • Do you: Call your Kokum (Grandmother) to discuss the dream?
  • Or: Get cracking on that paper and use this bit of motivation while you have it?

Other Characters

Lemmy (he/they)

Two spirit man, Anishnaabe. Fashionista. FCAD student (in journalism, fashion, or drama?). His item was the fan. Came out after highschool, when he came to Toronto for University. Loves K-Pop and dancing. YouTube content creator and Tik-Tokker on lifestyle and cosmetics. Sephora addict. History of eating disorders, periods of binge eating and fasting. Is able to save money when fasting, and also makes the cultural connection as a way to justify it. Has a partner, very much in love but partner gets violent when drinking. Lemmy hasn’t told anyone. He’s experienced some gay bashing and feels safer having a partner than being alone. Happier since he came out and some family members are supportive but some aren’t, and he hasn’t been back to the rez since, but he’s able to keep in touch with some family through social media. Thinks of himself as reinventing himself over this past year with Covid, and thinking of leaving his partner but not sure he can afford to live alone in Toronto.


  • Lemmy wakes up with bruises again. His left eye is swollen and blue despite having iced it last night. Chad was drinking again last night but looks so peaceful sleeping. Lemmy has a Zoom class in an hour, plenty of time to ice his eye and use concealer for class.
  • Or he could work on his overdue paper for a while and just keep his camera off the whole time.


Eugene (he/him)

Straight guy, hockey player, Moose Cree. Charismatic, confident, stubborn. Taking professional communication at TRSM (or sports broadcasting or management). Works out a lot,  helps with stress, was having hard time when covid started due to gyms being closed but found a running and home workout routine that works. Had an injury and was prescribed opiates but refused to take them since so many people on his rez had their lives destroyed that way. Out of touch with his emotions and all the deaths in his community lately has left him numb.


Marissa Chloe – (she/her)

New Marissa: Chloe (she/her) Character didn’t seem to resonate. Place to switch to Amy and Montana’s new character, privileged girl. Had native name but was adopted and they changed it to Ashley, Ramona, Cassandra, Chloe.

Nation: Haida, Dene, Mohawk, Inuit – we need diversity so they don’t see us all the same

Adopted family well-off. “Apple”? Tough stereotype to grapple with. What did Amy say? Came from the city. Midwifery student. Drives a white Mercedes Benz her parents bought. Lives in Richmond Hill with her parents. Doesn’t do her own laundry. Doesn’t cook or buy groceries. Went to a private school until university. Doesn’t have culture shock since she’s used to the city whereas the others do

ML King University ( will be the name of our pretend setting in a metropolis on turtle island)

Prototype Marissa: Will not be included

Native woman – thinks she’s Haida but doesn’t know details. Mid thirties, single mom of three kids ages, two teens live with her. Oldest on their own. Taking social work. Had experienced intervention by the child welfare system and been adopted out as a baby, was disconnected from her culture, then had her oldest apprehended, which was the darkest chapter in her life. Wants to work towards dismantling or altering that system. Background working admin for Native organizations. Quick study but doesn’t have a lot of time for herself.


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In Their Moccasins Copyright © by Sarena Johnson is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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