Rising to the Challenge... Massey Whiteknife
Some people can learn from being bullied and handle it without much damage to their psyche, while others are driven to suicide. Of course, there’s a whole set of people who fall somewhere in between.
Massey Whiteknife is one of those. Although he has family in Fort Chipewyan, he grew up in Conklin and later moved to Fort McMurray to escape bullying. Sadly, he couldn’t escape it.
Massey Whiteknife is doing what he can to stop bullying. And so is Iceis Rain. Iceis is the drag queen persona of Whiteknife, a strong-willed, two spirited, performer. You can’t have one without the other and while this is not a case of split personality, it is a case of a two-spirited person.
Whiteknife suffered sexual abuse as a child, was bullied in school for being gay, and gang raped as a teenager. His mental health deteriorated.
Any one of those series of events would be hard enough to deal with on its own, but he managed to not only survive but thrive. Many of us are familiar with his Iceis Group of Companies which, until the drop in oil prices, was a multi-million dollar business. Whiteknife had to scale back operations since before the Horse River wildfire of 2016, but always the entrepreneur, he continued to get involved with new ventures.
He added the title Producer to his resume when he was an associate producer on Kelton Stepanowich’s award-winning short film, God’s Acre.
Most recently, Whiteknife starred in the reality TV show, Queen of the Oil Patch, an eight-episode series broadcast on APTN.
But how does a person keep on going, productively, with such a frightening and damaging past?
Whiteknife’s childhood friend, Ray, told him years ago that he needn’t revolve his world around his bullies. He thought about it and then took strength in himself. This was not an easy feat to accomplish, since the bullies’ very existence and appearance every day was a constant reminder of who they are and what they can do to you. Ray also took Whiteknife to church, a different one than he had attended as a youngster, and he felt it resonated more with his experiences. Now he speaks to God whenever he has troubles and believes in that higher power.
Despite beginning to recover from trauma and addiction, Whiteknife still didn’t feel like he was contributing and still didn’t appreciate his successes. He began seeing counsellors, one of whom told him to slow down and pat himself on the back. Whiteknife began giving back to youth sports teams, even boxers he says; he found solace in that. He began to use resources available to him in Fort McKay and has started seeing a trauma counsellor (he has been diagnosed with PTSD).
Whiteknife’s mother is a big influence; he wants her to be happy and that pushes him. He adds she’s taking on more characteristics of Iceis and Massey and started making new friends, volunteering with elders and getting out more.
Whiteknife says his mother still fears he will be beaten because of who he is, and that’s what compelled him to do the show Queen of the Oil Patch: to educate people to prevent others from being bullied and beaten.
Most importantly, Whiteknife fell in love with himself again, as we all should.