Justin Ducharme (Métis)

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Justin Ducharme (Métis)
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St Ambroise, Manitoba, Canada
NationalityMétis (Treaty 1), Canadian
Alma materVancouver Film School
  • Filmmaker
  • Writer
  • Editor
  • Dancer
Years active2012 - Present
Known forKnown for writing, filmmaking, and dancing
Notable work
Hustling Verse: an Anthology of Sex Workers’ Poetry and Him/Her
AwardsAudience Award for Best Short, Fairy Tales Film Festival, 2019

Justin Ducharme is a Métis artist from the community of St. Ambroise, Manitoba on Treaty 1 territory.[1] As a graduate from Vancouver Film School, he is known for his writing, filmmaking, and dancing. His notable works include Hustling Verse: an Anthology of Sex Workers’ Poetry, and Him/Her. Ducharme identifies as two-spirit, and his works explore queerness and the representation of two-spirit Indigenous people and sex workers. Saying What He Wants To Say, How He Wants To Say It SAD Magazine.

Personal life

Justin Ducharme was born and raised in the prairies of Manitoba, in a small Métis community of St. Ambroise on Treaty 1 territory.[2] Upon completing primary and secondary education, Ducharme moved to Vancouver to obtain a film degree at Vancouver Film School. Ducharme ran into financial troubles, being a full-time student, the living allowance he was receiving was not enough to sustain living in East Vancouver.[3] Ducharme began to take part in sex work, or rather he began to hustle, as he called it in his anthology Hustling Verse: An Anthology of Sex Workers’ Poetry.Due to the stigma attached to sex work, Ducharme kept his hustle a secret. However, by sharing his experiences with his chosen family, he felt a sense of security while hustling.

Ducharme has since graduated film school and has written and directed four short films: To Be Alright (2013), Him/Her (2016), Positions (2018), and The Dancer (2019). Ducharme was also an actor in Tim Wolochatiuk and Jason Sherman’s 2012 film We Were Children. He has also written numerous articles for magazines such as PRISM International Magazine, Sex Worker Wisdom, and has curated festivals. Ducharme has always been passionate about the art of storytelling, whether it be through writing, film, or dance. He strives to provide a space of agency, and hypervisibility through his work[4].

Ducharme has been jigging since the age of seven and performs with The St. Ambroise Youth Steppers and the Louis Riel Métis Dancers.[5] Ducharme has travelled across Canada and even to France to share his passion for jigging and his culture. He currently lives and works on Unceded Coast Salish Territory.


In around 2013, Justin Ducharme studied and graduated from Vancouver Film School (VFS). Justin Ducharme is credited with directing, writing, editing as well as acting in film. His first film credit is his role in We Were Children (2012), as Glen when he was eighteen years old. Since then he has gone on to create short films that have been screened at various film festivals including imagineNative[6], Fairy Tales Film Festival[7], among others.

The Dancer (2019)

"A multi-disciplinary dancer finds herself faced with making a possibly life-altering decision about her health and future. Justin Ducharme is credited with writing and directing “The Dancer.”

Positions (2018)

The film “Positions” displays the daily encounters and experiences of a two-spirit, male sex worker. "Positions" explores themes of “sexual desire, financial stability, bodily autonomy, and agency.

This film features stories from Justin Ducharme's experiences with sex work. Ducharme created many poems and short stories about his experiences but never thought of creating a film until he attended imagineNATIVE in 2017. imagineNATIVE is an Indigenous film and media arts festival that happens annually in Toronto, it is the largest Indigenous film and media arts festival in the world.[8] Ducharme speaks of how it was hard to make a film about something so personal and taboo, like sex work. imaginative allowed him to feel more confident because the work displayed there dealt with stigmatized topics similar to sex work. Although Positions is about Ducharme's personal life doing sex work, the film is not an autobiography.[9] The film takes inspiration from Ducharme's life but follows the life of a fictional character.

Ducharme explains that the technique of a simple and naturalistic filming style used in “Positions” is important because he does not want to tell the audience how to feel about the character and what the character is doing. The film raises questions about why people feel discomfort or anger toward sex workers. Ducharme does not want the film to cover only the search for financial stability but also to show an exploration of sexual desire and selfhood.

It is important to see a film about sex work created by someone who is a sex worker. While Ducharme claims that "he never wants to speak for everyone,” he believes there needs to be more representation of sex work that is not sensationalized by the media.

Him/Her (2016)

“Him/Her” is a film written and directed by Justin Ducharme. The film experiments with merging different mediums of poetry and film, including Ducharme's poetry. Ducharme created Him/Her with his friends Taran Kootenhayoo and Georgia Bradner. The film process started when Ducharme gave poetry he had written to Kootenhayoo and Bradner. Ducharme speaks about Him/Her as the first film he was genuinely proud of because of the unique mixture of poetry and visuals. Before Him/Her, Ducharme had never done his poetry with visuals.

“Him/Her” reveals the complexity of romantic relationships, the film tells the story of a relationship between a young couple through the perspective of each person.[10]

To Be Alright (2013)

"To Be Alright" is about a janitor who works night shifts in the Mood Disorder wing of a hospital. One night, the janitor decides to start a conversation with a patient. Small talk turns into a very meaningful discussion. [11] Justin Ducharme is credited with writing and directing "To Be Alright."

Complete Filmography

Year Film Role Genre(s) Awards
2019 The Dancer (Short) Director, Writer Drama
2018 Positions (Short) Director, Writer Drama, Queer, Narrative Audience Award for Best Short (Fairy Tales Film Festival 2019)
2016 Him/Her (Short) Director, Writer, Editor Romance, Drama
2013 To Be Alright Director, Writer Drama
2012 We Were Children Actor- Glen (age 18) Documentary

Other Career

Ducharme is multidisciplinary artist, and in addition to his vast film career, has worked in writing, literary editing, poetry, curation, and dance. Ducharme worked as co-editor of Hustling Verse: An Anthology of Sex Workers’ Poetry, alongside award-winning author, poet, and filmmaker Amber Dawn.[12] Hustling Verse is an anthology in which over fifty self-identified sex workers from all walks of the industry across Canada, the US, Europe and Asia explore their lived experience through “the expressive nuance and beauty of poetry.” The works were published by Arsenal Pulp Press in September 2019.[13] As a notably unique collection, the works place an emphasis on avoiding simplistic stories, and the contributing poets explore the benefits and challenges of their work from a range of intersectional perspectives.[14] Through a pre-publication interview with Room Magazine describing the types of poetry submissions the editors wished to receive for the anthology, Ducharme expressed, “I want honesty. I want grit. I want truths. I want sexiness. I want all the things that sex workers are "not allowed" to be or talk about to have some form of expression through the writing. Most importantly at the very end of it all I want our contributors to feel proud and excited about their submissions.”[15] Ducharme is currently working on his first poetry collection under the mentorship of Red River Métis/Icelandic poet and author, Jónína Kirton.[16]

Ducharme additionally has experience as a dancer and performance artist, performing with the troupes ‘The St. Ambroise Youth Steppers’ and the ‘Louis Riel Métis Dancers.’ He began jigging at the age of seven, and launched his dance career at the age of ten as a devoted member of the Métis dance group ‘The St. Ambroise Youth Steppers.’ With the group, Ducharme travelled all across Canada and internationally to France, performing and sharing their dance with the world. Spending some time living in the desolate prairies as a dancer allowed him to take refuge and comfort in a love for cinema, and it was during these times where the artist became obsessed with the process of storytelling.

After connecting with contemporary choreographer, dancer, and national award-winning master Métis jigger Yvonne Chartrand through a relative, Ducharme has recently started dancing again with the ‘Louis Riel Métis Dancers.’The ‘Louis Riel Métis Dancers’ are a performing dance group under V’ni Dansi, a Vancouver-based traditional Métis and contemporary dance company dedicated to sharing the dances, stories and culture of the Métis. Led by Artistic Director Yvonne Chartrand, the company is dedicated to preservation and innovation.[17] The group exclusively performs the dance forms of traditional and contemporary Métis jigging. Traditional Métis jigging preserves the historical dances of past generations, including: The Red River Jig (up to 100 steps), Drops of Brandy, Reel of Eight, Duck Dance, Rabbit Dance, The Métis Square Dance, and Reels with calls. Contemporary Métis jigging modernizes traditional forms yet still pays homage to the cultural roots of each dance.As a member of the ‘Louis Riel Métis Dancers’, Ducharme takes immense pleasure in learning more about Métis dance and getting back into the cultural practices that have helped shape him into who he is today.

Ducharme was a visiting author at the Okanagan campus of the University of British Columbia, in a public reading series that was a collaboration of the Creative Writing Program at the University. It was hosted by the Faculty of Creative and Critical studies and spotlights “nationally celebrated writers and spoken artists” on a monthly basis. It was organized by Inspired Word Cafe, and was held in downtown Kelowna with a focus of making the event as accessible to the public as possible.[18]

Ducharme has also been featured as a guest on the podcast Adamant Eve, which was posted to the Listen Notes on December 18th, 2019. He speaks about his poetry anthology Hustling Verse in addition to the Vancouver Short film Positions.[19] Ducharme has also been a featured an episode with the podcast “Secret Feminist Agenda”. It is recorded and produced by Hannah McGregor on the traditional and unceded territories of the Squamish, Musqueam and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations.[20]


In general, there has been a positive reception to Justin Ducharme’s work, with particular emphasis on the increased representation for sex workers as well as shedding light on the lived experiences of what it is like to live at the intersection of queerness and Indigeneity. Ducharme’s work has contributed greatly to the contemporary Canadian Arts scene as it brings these voices to the forefront. The raw, unfiltered portrayal of the lives of those who are oftentimes the most marginalized. Amongst the community response on Goodreads, those who rated the anthology Hustling Verse highest focused on the importance of reading testimonies from a highly stigmatized profession.[21]

A review was published by the Montreal Gazette on Hustling Verse on September 6, 2019 and details emphasizes the need for more accurate portrayals of sex workers, particularly since the majority of literature on sex work is published by those who are not part of the industry. According to journalist Tom Sandborn, the topic has “been literally studied to death by academics, bureaucrats and social workers, but their own voices are too absent from public debates.” Sandborn concludes that this work is central for those who wish to engage in “ongoing policy discussion about sex work trade in Canada”, as it provides a nuanced, honest and “well crafted” collection of testimonies.[22]

Additionally, in a review of the anthology by Indigenous poet Billy-Ray Belcourt, Belcourt describes Hustling Verse as, “...a profound shift in Canadian letters. Here is an anthology that remaps the coordinates of artistic production. We have left the centre for the periphery. In the periphery there is a shared understanding that the poetic desire is firstly a desire to remake the world for those tailgated by structural violence of all kinds. Justin Ducharme and Amber Dawn's curatorial efforts amount on the one hand to a scathing critique of white supremacist cisheteropatriachal capitalism and the long marginalization of art by and for sex workers and on the other to a resounding refusal of the old way of being a poet in Canada. After Hustling Verse, we have to be and do things differently.”

In the media



  1. "Justin Ducharme". Canadian Filmmakers Distribution Centre. April 7, 2020.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  2. "Meet the Team". Out On Screen. April 10, 2020.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  3. Dawn, Amber; Ducharme, Justin (2019-10-24). Hustling Verse: An Anthology of Sex Workers’ Poetry. arsenal pulp press. ISBN 978-1-55152-782-6.
  4. Justin, Ducharme (April 10, 2020). "Water Into Fire". Canadian Art. Retrieved April 10, 2020.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  5. "Louis Riel Métis Dancers". Compaigni V'ni Dansi. 2013-06-10. Retrieved 2020-04-11.
  6. "The Dancer". imagineNative. Retrieved April 6, 2020.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  7. "Positions: Justin Ducharme". Canadian Filmmakers Distribution Centre. Retrieved April 6, 2020.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  8. "imagineNATIVE". imagineNATIVE. Retrieved 2020-04-11.
  9. "Four short films to look out for at ImagineNATIVE 2018". Xtra. October 12, 2018. Retrieved April 7, 2020.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  10. "Him/Her (2016)". IMDb. Retrieved April 7, 2020.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  11. "To Be Alright (2013)". IMDb. Retrieved April 7, 2020.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  12. "Justin Ducharme". Canadian Art. Retrieved April 10, 2020.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  13. "Hustling Verse". Amazon. Retrieved April 10, 2020.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  14. Kirshner, Lauren. "The Poetics of the Hustle: An Interview with Amber Dawn and Justin Ducharme, Editors of Hustling Verse". Room Magazine. Retrieved April 10, 2020.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  15. Kirton, Jónína. "Hustling Verse: An Anthology of Sex Workers' Poetry: An Interview with the Editors". Retrieved April 10, 2020.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  16. "Justin Ducharme". Vancouver Island Short Film Festival. Retrieved April 10, 2020.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  17. "V'ni Dansi Company". V'ni Dansi Company. Retrieved April 10, 2020.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  18. "Visiting Authors". University of British Columbia: Okanagan Campus. Retrieved April 10, 2020.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  19. "Justin Ducharme on Positions and Hustling Verse". Listen Notes. Retrieved April 10, 2020.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  20. "Podcast". Secret Feminist Agenda. Retrieved April 10, 2020.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  21. "Hustling Verse: An Anthology of Sex Workers' Poetry". GoodReads. Retrieved April 10, 2020.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  22. Sandborn, Tom (September 6, 2019). "Book Review: Sex workers speak out in anthology of their writings". Montreal Gazette. Retrieved April 10, 2020.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)

External links

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