Aho ndinawemaaganidog, Waabanakwaad indigo. Kwekwekipiness minawaa indigo. Ozaawaabiitang minawaa indizhinikaz. Pizhiw ndodem. Kakagiwaatisoonigaming ndoonjii. Nimidew.
Hello, my relatives. My name is Wab Kinew. I am from the Ojibways of Onigaming First Nation in Northwestern Ontario. Picture the most stunning lakes, islands and forests of the Canadian Shield, that was my backyard growing up. By the time I started elementary school my family had moved to Winnipeg, where I've lived most of the time since.
When I was a young boy, I had a vision telling me to become a pipe carrier. Since then I've had many excellent wisdom keepers take the time to show me the traditional ways of the Anishinaabe and Lakota peoples. I've gone into the Midewin lodge, which is the traditional healing society and religion of the Anishinaabe. I've also Sundanced for about half of my life.
At one point, I turned down an academic scholarship at an American university so that I could be closer to my grandpa and learn from him. In hindsight, this was a great move because today I feel grounded in the traditional Anishinaabe world view, and I still earned a degree closer to home.
As a child my parents did a lot to push me out of my introverted shell. I testified before the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples about the Anishinaabe language immersion pre-school I attended. My father, the Grand Chief of Treaty #3 at the time, would make me speak in front of gatherings of people, coaching me on how to win them over beforehand. By the time I was a teen I felt comfortable with public speaking, though before I say my first word, I still get nervous!
Given a childhood like that, I guess it's not surprising I'm a person who talks for a living, and for whom traditional spirituality is very important.
Today I'm a television reporter for CBC News Winnipeg. My career there started by accident. I wrote a letter to the Winnipeg Free Press about Canada's hockey team. Someone at CBC liked it, looked me up in the phone book and asked me to turn that into a piece for the radio. In the years since, I've worked on the radio, travelled all over and slowly transitioned into TV storytelling.
My most rewarding experience to date with the CBC has been leading the coverage for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's first national event in Winnipeg. I was honoured to tell the stories of many Residential School Survivors and even one of their teachers. Most meaningful on a personal level was the chance to tell my father and and my family's story. That piece has racked up awards and accolades, but perhaps more importantly, has lead many non-Natives to tell me it helped them develop empathy towards the Survivors and their descendants.
I'm also a rap artist and musician (see more) who has been lucky enough to travel across the continent from Texas to the Yukon plying his trade. Music has even taken me to the United Kingdom and Italy. My focus with music now is to encourage people to feel good about themselves and the world they live in. You can download my latest album for free at wabkinew.com
In some ways I haven't changed a lot since I was a boy. Back then I had school, my art (drawing) and my sport (hockey). Now, I have my job, my art (music) and my sport (martial arts). Based on that insight, I take my role as a dad very seriously. I'm doing my best to make sure my kids are given great opportunities, live morally and have a lot of fun along the way.
Read a bio about Charles Bender, Host of the SRC Series.