Waubgeshig Rice new host of CBC's Up North

Waubgeshig Rice, an Anishinaabe journalist, storyteller and author is the new host of CBC's afternoon program Up North.

Rice to host Up North, heard weekday afternoons from 4 to 6 on CBC Radio One in northern Ontario

Waubegeshig Rice is the new host of CBC Radio's Up North program. (Yvon Theriault/Radio-Canada)

Waubgeshig Rice, an Anishinaabe journalist, storyteller and author is the new host of CBC's afternoon program Up North.

"Hosting Up North is a great honour and an exciting opportunity to start compelling conversations with the vibrant communities across northern Ontario," Rice said.

"This is a region rich with stories and fascinating people and cultures. I feel very fortunate and privileged to be able to share the experiences of northern Ontarians with others throughout the region and beyond. I hope listeners will welcome us into their homes and join in the conversations."

Originally from Wasauksing First Nation near Parry Sound, Ont., Rice first started his career in journalism when he wrote about his experiences as an Anishinaabe exchange student in northern Germany for newspapers in Ontario.

Joining the CBC

Rice graduated from journalism at Ryerson University in 2002 and then freelanced for newspapers and magazines.

He stepped into broadcasting with The Weather Network in 2003 as a news writer and television reporter.

In 2006, Rice joined CBC Manitoba as a television and radio reporter where he filed local and national stories.

He co-produced a half-hour television special with KPBS in San Diego and was nominated for a regional Emmy award in 2009.

In 2010, he moved to work with CBC Toronto and then CBC Ottawa as a video journalist. Rice has produced radio and television documentaries for CBC and contributed to special reports such as ReVision Quest and 8th Fire.

Marissa Nelson, CBC's senior managing director, Ontario Region, said she is thrilled that Rice is taking over the afternoon broadcast.

"[Rice] is deeply rooted in Ontario's north and will ensure the program continues to represent a variety of local voices," Nelson said.

"As CBC Ontario's first Indigenous host of a local radio show, I couldn't be more proud of him. As I'm sure you will learn, Waub is an incredible story-teller, he's naturally curious and always compassionate. He'll be juggling a lot over the next short while —  a new job as your host and as a new father, but I'm sure he's up to the task."

Accomplished author

Rice is an accomplished author and received the Anishinabek Nation's Debwewin Citation for Excellence in First Nation storytelling in 2004, which recognized his journalism and literary work.

His first published work was a short story collection, Midnight Sweatlodge, followed by novels Legacy and Moon of the Crusted Snow.

Rice lives with his wife and son, and splits his time between Sudbury, where Up North is produced, and his home in Wasauksing First Nation. In his free time, he enjoys reading, playing guitar, training in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and being with family.

'Unique perspective'

"We're so pleased to welcome someone of Waub's calibre to our team," Fiona Christensen, executive producer of CBC Sudbury said.

"Waub is a talented, thoughtful and curious journalist with a passion for northern Ontario and a passion for story-telling. He'll bring a unique perspective to Up North and I'm very excited about the possibilities."

CBC Thunder Bay executive producer Michael Dick said he's looking forward to welcoming Rice to the Up North team. Listeners of the program will have an opportunity to meet the program's new host in the city on Thursday, June 21st, when Waubgeshig Rice will host a special National Indigenous Peoples Day broadcast of the program, from the Fort William First Nation.

"Waub is a unique and gifted storyteller and I have no doubt those skills will help connect with our audience across northern Ontario," said Dick.

"We're absolutely thrilled for him, the listeners and the Up North team."

Rice will take to the airwaves as the host of Up North on June 25. You can tune in online here.