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Waubgeshig Rice turns real life tragedy into Legacy

When Waubgeshig Rice was working as a CBC journalist in Winnipeg, he heard countless stories from indigenous families who have lost loved ones through tragedy. These stories, and personal losses in his own family, inspired Rice’s sophomore novel, Legacy.
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When Waubgeshig Rice was working as a CBC journalist in Winnipeg, he heard countless stories from indigenous families who have lost loved ones through tragedy — devastating events that included murder, suicide, and violence.

"I think we can all agree that indigenous families in this country sadly deal with tragedy to a greater degree than non-indigenous families," the Anishinaabe author and journalist says.

"What really struck me was the resolve to try to overcome the tragedies, but at the same time honour the people that they lost in their lives."

These stories, and personal losses in his own family, inspired Rice's sophomore novel, Legacy.

His own aunt was killed in 1979, before he was born. His family made sure that she was remembered in a good way, rather than simply as a victim.

"I got to hear good stories about who she was as a person, and what she liked to do and what her dreams and aspirations were," says Rice.

Rice, who grew up on Wasauksing First Nation, Ont., credits another aunt of his for introducing him to indigenous authors and literature. He is inspired by authors like Thomas King, Richard Wagamese, Lee Maracle, and Jordan Wheeler.

Rice currently works as a CBC journalist in Ottawa and is working on a new book.


To hear more of Waubgeshig Rice in conversation with Rosanna Deerchild, click the "listen" button above.

This segment originally aired on Nov. 8, 2014.