Adam Beach isn’t just one of the more high-profile Canadians in Hollywood these days – he’s also almost certainly the most high-profile Aboriginal actor of all time.

After starring in the likes of Windtalkers, Flags of Our Fathers, and Law and Order: SVU, Beach is well-placed to serve as an inspirational model for youth in the troubled community where he grew up.

It’s a role he takes seriously. With a long-awaited formal government apology for the ‘residential schools’ program coming this week, Beach is speaking out about the damage inflicted on Canada’s First Nations by the schools.

“It all starts with respecting yourself – and our people lost that,” he tells writer Roy MacGregor. “This circle of violence must stop with ourselves. I must be able to say, ‘I forgive myself.’ ”

In the article, Beach talks about sexual abuse, losing his parents, and how he came through it all to become clean and sober, happily married, and a Hollywood star. It’s a tough read in parts, but well worth checking out – an all-too-rare bright spot in the dark narrative of recent Aboriginal history in Canada.

For some vintage pre-Hollywood Adam Beach, dig up Dance Me Outside at your local indie video store.

Here’s Adam Beach on CBC’s The Hour, discussing, among other things, the limited roles available to Aboriginal people in Hollywood: