THUNDER BAY – CBC journalist Waubgeshig Rice has been selected as the 2014 recipient of the Debwewin Citation for excellence in First Nations Storytelling.
Rice, a citizen of Wasauksing First Nation near Parry Sound, Ont. is a video-journalist in the public broadcaster’s Ottawa newsroom. He produced “Capital NDNs”, an hour-long television documentary about contemporary Aboriginal life in Ottawa, and his video contributions to CBC’s “8th Fire Digital Project” include “Mixed Blood” and “Sacraments and the Smudge”.
“I learned a lot about being Anishinaabe as a child through the stories my grandmother, aunts and uncles told me,” says Rice, who pursued a journalism degree from Ryerson University in Toronto after coming to the realization that Canada’s education system and media were responsible for what he calls “the rift between Native and non-Native people in Canada.”
A former summer intern with the Anishinabek News, Rice worked for CBC television in Winnipeg and produced the CBC Radio series “ReVision Quest” before moving to Ottawa in 2010.
Anishinabek Nation Grand Council Chief Patrick Madahbee will present Waubgeshig – his name means “white sky” in Ojibwe – with the Debwewin Citation during the 2014 Evening of Excellence presented by the Anishinabek Nation Seventh Generation Charity.
“All political leaders recognize the importance of communications,” said the Grand Council Chief on behalf of the 39 member Anishinabek First Nations. “The Anishinabek are proud and fortunate to number among our citizens people like Waub Rice, who can help create greater awareness among Canadians about our people, our culture, and our contemporary issues.”
Madahbee also praised the contributions of Greg Plain of Aamjiwnaang First Nation near Sarnia, who will be presented with a special Honourary Mention plaque at the Aug. 20th event in Sudbury.
“It’s important that our citizens and communities get public recognition for the things they achieve, and Greg has contributed over 50 stories for the Anishinabek News about people and projects in our Southwest Region.”
The Debwewin Citations are the first major awards intended to recognize and encourage excellence in reporting about Native issues by First Nations and other writers. A selection committee appointed by the Union of Ontario Indians communications unit solicits nominations for the awards, whose name reflects the Ojibwe words for “truth”, but which literally means “to speak from the heart”.
The award has been presented nine times since first given to Toronto Star journalist Peter Edwards in 2002 for his extensive body of work related to the death of unarmed Anishinabek protester Dudley George on Sept. 6, 1995 at the former Ipperwash Provincial Park. Since then it has honoured not just journalists, but others who use their storytelling skills to create greater awareness about First Peoples across Anishinabek Nation territory.
Last year’s recipient was CBC reporter Jody Porter, for her ongoing coverage of First Nations issues in the Thunder Bay area. Anishinabek recipients have included renowned Anishinabek author Basil Johnston from Cape Croker, columnist Bud Whiteye from Walpole Island, and writer/broadcaster Jennifer Ashawasagai from Henvey Inlet. The 2004 honouree was Lynn Johnston, who introduced First Nations people and places into “For Better or For Worse”, her cartoon strip carried by over 2,000 newspapers in 22 countries.