Saskatoon, Treaty 6: Dakota-Ray Hebert


(Photo shot on location of Lily & Sage by Karen Polowick, Intro by Kenneth T. Williams)

Fear, Fool and Fire

In some alternate universe they give medals of bravery for people who stare down their inner fears, go forward on shaky legs and fluttering stomachs, and expose their vulnerabilities to the world. In that universe, Dakota Hebert has a sack-load of those medals. She’s stared down failure, embarrassment, exclusion. She’s the constant outsider, the one who wasn’t invited to the club but walks in anyway. Yet, she is not fearless. I know this. She is afraid, she’s told me. The fear guts her but I’ve never known it to stop her. Fear guides her in the best way that fear can guide anyone – it points the way for emotional and artistic growth. It’s a path to wisdom – an often painful path.

Confidence is a black belt fighting a white belt. Thing is, that black belt isn’t going to learn a thing from the fight. The white belt, however, will learn tons but will look like a fool doing it. Dakota is a constant white belt looking for black belts to fight – OK, not literally, this is a metaphor, people, she’s not violent. It’s that, she’s eager to learn and knows the fastest way to learn is to try something harder than she’s ever done, embrace the failure, and try again. Dakota is also extremely bright, learns her lessons quickly, then she’s off looking for the next opportunity to be out of her depth.

We often overuse the word “passion” when talking about work in the arts. Passion can be dangerous, it often leads to burn out and bitter disappointment. Dakota has a fire for her art but it’s balanced with a strong sense of fun. Her performances can break your heart one second then bust your gut the next. She will give up her worldly possessions to be in a play. I am blessed to call this cross-dressing, foul-mouthed princess, hockey nut, glamour-babe genius my friend and colleague.

KC: What kinds of projects are you involved in right now?

Fortunately, lots! I’m currently on tour with Red Sky Performance in a show called Mistatim. We’re touring this show through BC and New Brunswick and Nova Scotia! In May, I do a show called Salt Baby at The Refinery in Saskatoon. June-August, I’ll be heading to Toronto where I’ll be hosting a (hopefully) weekly comedy room at a bar called The Derby on Dundas St. W. September and October I’ll be touring Salt Baby throughout the Yukon and Ontario. November I’ll be doing a show in Saskatoon (but that hasn’t been signed yet, so I won’t say too much yet). January I’ll be doing a play in Regina (hasn’t been announced yet, so, again, can’t say too much). And then February and March, Salt Baby goes up on Globe Theatre’s Main Stage! It’s been a lot of hard work, and it’s never-ending in upkeep, but I’m learning how to handle the workload.

KC: What’s your day job? What do you like about it? What’s challenging?

I’m very fortunate in that my day job is acting. I love everything about it. It’s been a dream to do this since I was a kid, and to wake up and perform for audiences of all ages, jeez, it’s a real honour. I don’t take it lightly, or for granted. It does get challenging, though. I’m sure many, many people would agree with me when I say that I am the ABSOLUTE WORST at correspondence. Emails and messages pile up, and they’re hard to respond to when I’m on the go. But I’m learning to set even a half hour a day aside to get to them.

KC: What’s important to you?

My family. Big time. Family and friends. My dad is my hero, and both he and my stepmom are a couple of my closest pals, as are my siblings. My sister is a fellow traveler, and she’s just as bubbly as I am. My brother Layne is a mad guitar player; that guy shreds like you wouldn’t believe. Justin is a hockey player, and has one of the funniest senses of humour; we’ve caused a ruckus at parties/events/home a couple times. I have a half-brother Logan who is probably just as dope as the rest of us (we haven’t seen him in a very long time). And my baby brother Dylan is one of my best friends. We make YouTube videos, and hang out, and just have a blast together whenever I’m home. I actually could talk about him forever haha. And those are just my immediate family members! I could go on about my extended family! And my friends, good Lord, they’re all so wonderful, and unique, and loving, and supportive, and I can’t believe I was blessed with so many great people in my life.

KC: What do you like most/least about Saskatoon?

Saskatoon is a beautiful city. And there is always something going on. I can’t think of anytime I was in the city and got bored. It’s become home.
As for what I like least, racism is alive and well here. People need to smarten up and educate themselves. Indigenous people don’t deserve the sh*t that often gets dealt. If you’re not Native, you likely don’t see it, but believe me when I say racism is still so prevalent. It’s appalling. Having said that, there are so many amazing and brave people who are pushing for a change, and I firmly believe they are making a difference in the community. Yes, there is work to be done, but these folks are getting it done!

KC: What is your impression of Regina?

Regina is another home to me! I lived there for a year and a half in high school (what up Thom Collegiate!), I worked at Laser Quest, Lasenza in Northgate Mall, Novus Autoglass on Albert, and I’ve had the pleasure of performing in a few Globe Theatre shows, too! I also have a soft spot for Regina, because it was where I moved to right after high school to become an actor. The folks at Regina Little Theatre gave me the confidence to audition for Globe; go see their productions!

KC: How do you survive the winters?

Barely. I’m a big baby in the winter. Big sweaters, sweatpants, mukluks, and a toque. Everywhere I go. Lots of fattening foods, Netflix, hockey, and ice fishing make them bearable though. I view all the holidays throughout the season as checkpoints to get me through the whole winter. But I’m not a big fan of wintertime.

From the Proust Questionnaire: How would you like to die?

Something spectacular and memorable! While I think dying peacefully in my sleep at an old age would be lovely, I don’t think that’s how I will expire. I envision something exciting. I’ve decided that should I ever reach an age where my body is shutting down (but my mind is able to comprehend this), or I develop a terminal illness (I knocked on everything wooden in my motel room), I will take up dangerous-ish activities like sky diving, or deep sea diving, or swimming with sharks whilst on my period, you know, the usual things one would do if the tunnel of light was approaching.