Getting to know CBC VJ Waubgeshig Rice

CBC journalist and writer Waub Rice opens up about his career, writing and where he calls home.

CBC journalist and writer Waub Rice opens up about his career, writing and where he calls home.

Author and CBC journalist Waubgeshig Rice is one of our team members at (Photo courtesy Jessica Blaine Smith)

Meet CBC’s Waubgeshig Rice, video journalist in Ottawa. An Anishinaabe from Wasauksing First Nation, Ontario, Waub believes that staying true to his roots has been key in his success as a journalist and published author.

The day he witnessed 9/11 from the newsroom as a Ryerson J-school intern, Waub knew he would someday work in broadcast news.

In 2006, he got a call from CBC. Someone had seen him reporting for the Weather Network in Toronto and wanted to know whether he'd want to apply for a job at CBC. He's been here ever since.

Where do you call home and who is one person you make sure to see when you go there?

I call Wasauksing First Nation home. It's about a five hour drive from Ottawa, and I try to get home at least once a month. One person I always make sure to visit is my grandmother, Aileen Rice, who still lives in the community. She's been a major influence on my life, and has long been a big supporter of my journalism and storytelling career. I've learned a lot from her and I greatly enjoy visiting her and learning about my community's history and the Ojibway language. She's also really funny.

I often joke that I was discovered in the CBC parking lot smoking a cigarette but how did you get in to the CBC?

VJ Waubgeshig Rice at an Idle No More rally in Ottawa (Ahki Management)
My first experience at CBC was a six-week internship during my fourth year of Journalism school at Ryerson in the fall of 2001. It was a great experience, and after learning all the ins and outs of the daily local news, I knew I wanted to work for CBC someday. The second Tuesday I was there was actually September 11. As tragic as that day was, it was very eye opening to experience it in the CBC newsroom. With all the confusion of that day, it was up to the media to let the public know exactly what was going on as quickly as possible. I knew then I wanted to be in broadcast news. However, it was many years later that I actually returned to the CBC fold. I was working as the Toronto bureau reporter for The Weather Network in 2006 when I got a call from CBC in Winnipeg. They had seen me on TV and asked if I would be interested in applying for a reporter position they had opening up. After an interview, I got the job and haven't looked back. I still do the occasional weather story, and I enjoy it!

What was your family`s reaction to seeing you on TV for the first time?

My family was pretty excited to see me on TV for the first time. It was a pretty new phenomenon for them and for others in my community, so needless to say I got a lot of encouragement and support from them. I also got a lot of teasing too, as is typical among 'Nish families. They liked to make fun of me wearing makeup and any other peculiar situations in which I'd be reporting. But my grandma once said it best: "When I was younger, I never imagined owning a TV. When I finally got one, I never imagined seeing Indians on TV. Now I see my grandson on TV and I'm very proud."

Which story are you most proud of?

The most memorable, though, is covering the residential school apology in Winnipeg back in 2008. The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs had booked large conference rooms at a downtown hotel and invited more than 1000 survivors to come and watch. It was an emotionally powerful moment, and once all was said and done, there was an uplifting sense of relief and survivors were ready to talk.

Not only are you an accomplished journalist, you also have a successful writing career on the side. Give us the update on your new novel.

My new novel called Legacy will be out next spring. It’s about a group of siblings from an Ojibway community in northern Ontario that’s dealing with the tragic death of their sister. It follows them on a healing journey as they struggle to cope with their loss. I'm really looking forward to having Legacy out there. It's been the biggest creative project of my life.

Any sports jerseys in your closet?

You would definitely find a Toronto Maple Leafs jersey in my closet. I've been a fan my whole life. This year they look pretty good! You'd also find jerseys of the Buffalo Bills and the German national soccer team.

Any advice to young indigenous journos out there?

My advice to young Indigenous journalists is to learn as many technical skills as possible and to never forgot their people's stories and traditions. Our stories are important and it's our job to educate other Canadians who never learned the proper history of Canada in school. Our collective voice is stronger than ever and it's time for others to listen.

What advice were you given that has stuck with you?

The best advice I ever got was to be proud of who I am and to always be true to myself. It's carried me through this exciting career so far. It’s advice I got early on from my parents, but I’ve heard it repeated from elders and mentors at various stages of my life. I think it’s a simple, effective mantra that can keep us all grounded in this wildly changing world.


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