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Actor Adam Beach on his First Nations heritage and what he’s learned

He hit our screens in Law & Order and Big Love and is now saving lives in CBC’s Arctic Air. This homegrown hottie dishes on family, his struggles and what keeps him grounded

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Adam Beach

Q: You moved to L.A. for work. What’s it like to be back?
A: Working in Canada is great for me because my two boys, who live in Ottawa, can get to me easily. It’s pretty crazy sometimes, though, because we film all over — Vancouver is the best place for special effects and the beautiful landscape scenes are all shot in Yellowknife.

Q: Has being from the First Nations shaped your career?
A: As an Anishinabe man, I think I bring a depth to the shows I’m in. I have a connection with this beautiful world we call Mother Earth. People sometimes say, “Hey Adam, you have this light.” And there’s a romanticism that a lot of the world feels toward Native peoples; I’m lucky to have that.

Q: How important is your culture?
A: My culture and tradition have helped me to realize my purpose and to rise to the occasion, whatever that may be. And it’s about growing up. As a kid I had a lot taken away from me, through my parents passing away and sexual abuse. It’s tempting to fall into this trap of building walls around you to protect yourself. But I used those walls to stop anybody preventing me from achieving my goals. Being aware of all the living things that surround us in this world gave me strength. It’s powerful stuff.

Q: What’s the most valuable thing you’ve learned over time?
A: We always feel a sense of being a child at certain times — in our struggles — and we think we can’t move forward. But I’m 39 years old. I have ammunition to progress in any situation. I’m a man now; I’m not a child. I’m not eight years old, I’m not even a teenager, so I can really carry my weight and my strength as a man, as a parent and as a boyfriend. All these things keep me grounded.