Little Bird Series Review: One Woman’s Journey Discovering Her Roots

Crave's first-ever original drama is a profound Indigenous origin story.

In Canada, there was a government-mandated abduction of Indigenous children from their families that began in the late ‘50s and continued as far as the early ‘80s. This happened on top of the ongoing Residential Schools program separating Indigenous children from their homes; the children were placed in foster “care,” and/or put up for adoption without the consent of their families. This phenomenon was called the Sixties Scoop, and this is the foundation of APTN lumi and Crave’s original series, Little Bird.

Bezhig Little Bird (Keris Hope Hill) is five years old when she and her younger siblings are scooped one afternoon while playing outside. It is here this family experiences a kind of event that puts them on a tragic and persistent path of trauma. The family, found happy and well with their humble means, are caught up in an active attempt to destroy the fabric of Indigenous peoples, specifically in the highest concentration of abduction: Saskatchewan.

Bezhig is placed in a foster centre with her siblings and is prepared to be given away to non-Indigenous families because of the fabricated neglect they’ve experienced. Despite desperate attempts by their mother, Patti Little Bird (Ellyn Jade), to bring her children home while simultaneously nursing her police-brutalized husband back to health, Bezhig and her younger siblings’ pleas to go home are ignored. They are told they are headed to a more appropriate upbringing.

That is how the story begins, and then suddenly we’re in the ‘80s. Bezhig has become Esther Rosenblum (Darla Contois) a twenty-year old Jewish woman celebrating her engagement party on the cusp of beginning a brilliant law career. It is at this party that she is faced with the reality of her situation. Though she is one half of the guests of honour, and very much in love with her fiancé David (Rowan Khan), when in earshot of a derogatory discussion about her status as an outsider in the Montreal Jewish community and the household of her in-laws to be, she is so hurt and cracked open by the cruelty that she spirals into a depression.


How could this be happening to her? Is she not Jewish herself? Her name is. Her mother Golda Rosenblum (Lisa Edelstein) certainly is. But it isn’t quite right, so she embarks on a path to find herself and the family she was removed from. We pivot between Saskatchewan of the past and the Saskatchewan and Montreal of the ‘80s. It is tightrope screenwriting to find the right balance between past and present, and multiple locations, and make it seem seamless and meaningful, and the writers find that balance.

Co-creators Jennifer Podemski and Hannah Moscovitch were clever to take a large historical event and focus in on a family and, more cleverly, on one member of that family. Bezhig is kind and determined, and through her trauma she takes us on a time-machine to explore her origins. In each episode, she learns something about her family, herself, and the Sixties Scoop in general. Every revelation Bezhig has is one for us. Though we may be educated in the events of the Sixties Scoop and the trauma of the survivors, this story is specific to Bezhig. As viewers, we have information Bezhig doesn’t have, and when she learns it, we feel for her. Every aspect of the storytelling is thoughtful, and though the skeleton is tragic, the production is gorgeous. During moments when Bezhig is feeling elation, you are lifted with her through the the story, the dialog, and, of course, the profound acting.

Little Bird

The exposition in this series isn’t heavy handed, and in fact serves a greater purpose than just driving the plot forward. It provides situational, historical and social context without using specific moments or language. The script on any of the given six episodes touches on familial and generational trauma, racial and cultural discrimination and exploitation, racial privilege, missing Indigenous women, police brutality, and even more recent topics like the Transracial Paradox of adoption, and that is only the tip of the iceberg. With all that being touched upon, the storytelling remains smooth throughout. The waters are never muddied with strained drama, and our focus remains with Bezhig’s heart.

As Bezhig meets more of her lost family, learns new information through oral history or photographs, and finds joy in these reunions, she has more to lose and ends up on an even more vulnerable trajectory. As she questions her upbringing and attempts to normalize what she had in her past and present, the audience is watching a national shame being exposed as a domino effect of intersectional discomfort for her and her loved ones. Little Bird is worth all of the inevitable highs and lows. It is a piece of television that shows what you can do with art and a message that taps into you both viscerally and intellectually.


All episodes of Little Bird are now streaming on Crave and APTN lumi.