Transcript: Duncan McCue: Learning to Live Off the Land | Jul 27, 2020

Nam sits in the studio. She's in her early forties, with shoulder length curly brown hair. She's wearing glasses and a black blazer over a purple shirt.

A caption on screen reads "Learning to live off the land. Nam Kiwanuka, @namshine, @theagenda."

Nam says TODAY, HE IS WELL KNOWN BY CANADIANS FROM COAST TO COAST BUT WHEN HE WAS 17, HE BARELY KNEW HIMSELF. FIVE MONTHS LIVING ON A CREE TRAPLINE IN NORTHERN QUEBEC TAUGHT HIM THINGS ABOUT LIFE AND HIS INDIGENOUS IDENTITY THAT WOULD SHAPE EVERYTHING THAT CAME AFTER. HE IS DUNCAN MCCUE, A MUCH-ADMIRED CBC RADIO HOST, AND HE TELLS THAT STORY, IN HIS BOOK "THE SHOE BOY: A TRAPLINE MEMOIR." AND IT'S A PLEASURE TO WELCOME DUNCAN MCCUE, FROM HIS OFFICE IN TORONTO, TO OUR AIRWAVES.

Duncan is in his thirties, clean-shaven, with dark, mid-parted hair gelled back. He's wearing glasses and a black and yellow shirt.
A picture of his book appears briefly on screen. The cover is pale blue and features three Polaroid pictures of Duncan standing in snow, crouching in a forest and standing next to another person.

Nam continues WELCOME, DUNCAN. HOW ARE YOU?

Duncan says I'M DOING WELL, NAM. HOW ARE YOU?

Nam says I'M OKAY. GREAT BOOK, BY THE WAY. TWENTY YEARS AGO HOW DID YOU END UP SPENDING ALMOST HALF A YEAR ON A CREE TRAPLINE IN NORTHERN QUEBEC?

The caption changes to "Duncan McCue. Author. 'The shoe boy.'"

Duncan says YOU KNOW, IT WAS SUCH AN IMPORTANT JOURNEY FOR ME AND IT'S SOMETHING THAT ENDED UP KIND OF REALLY TAKING... IT BECAME A CRITICAL PART OF MY EDUCATION. WE HAD MOVED UP TO CHISASIBI, A LITTLE VILLAGE ON THE QUEBEC SHORE OF JAMES BAY, WHEN I WAS 12 OR 13. MY DAD STARTED WORKING WITH THE CREE SCHOOL BOARD. SO WE HAD BEEN LIVING IN JAMES BAY FOR ABOUT FIVE YEARS. WHEN I GRADUATED FROM HIGH SCHOOL, MY DAD APPROACHED ME AND SAID, "WOULD YOU BE INTERESTED IN TAKING A YEAR OFF, NOT GOING TO UNIVERSITY BUT SPENDING TIME OUT ON THE TRAPLINE?" AND I SAID, "ABSOLUTELY." BECAUSE LIVING IN JAMES BAY, I HAD STARTED TO LEARN SOME HUNTING SKILLS AND I REALLY, REALLY ENJOYED BEING OUT ON THE LAND WITH THE CREE. I'M ANISHINAABE FROM SOUTHERN ONTARIO AND GREW UP A SOMEWHAT URBAN KID. AND THE CREE, WHEN WE MOVED TO JAMES BAY, TOOK IT UPON THEMSELVES TO TEACH ME HOW TO HUNT. I WASN'T A GREAT HUNTER, BUT I REALLY, REALLY ENJOYED BEING OUT ON THE LAND. SO THE OPPORTUNITY TO GO OUT IN THE BUSH FOR AN EXTENDED PERIOD OF TIME REALLY APPEALED TO ME AND SO THAT'S HOW I GOT INTRODUCED TO ROBBIE MATTHEW, SR. WHO I ENDED SPENDING FIVE MONTHS WITH WAY OUT IN THE BUSH ON HIS TRAPLINE.

Nam says HAVING THE GIFT OF HINDSIGHT, WHAT WOULD YOU SAY IN THIS MOMENT WAS PROBABLY THE MOST IMPORTANT LESSON THAT YOU LEARNED DURING YOUR TIME ON THE TRAPLINE?

Duncan says THERE WERE SO MANY LESSONS, NAM. I THINK THAT, YOU KNOW, I HAD HOPED THAT I MIGHT LEARN HOW TO HUNT. I MEAN, THAT WAS THE SIMPLE... I WAS A TERRIBLE HUNTER. THE CREE TOOK ME OUT TO HUNT GEESE DURING THE MIGRATION NORTH AND SOUTH. THE CREE VILLAGE IS JUST EMPTY. GOOSE HUNTING IS A REALLY, REALLY IMPORTANT PART OF CREE CULTURE, AND SO I HAD GONE OUT ON THE SEMIANNUAL GOOSE HUNT EVERY YEAR WITH A CREE FAMILY, THE PACHANOS, BUT I WASN'T A VERY GOOD HUNTER. I HOPED WHEN I GOT OUT THERE THAT I MIGHT IMPROVE MY SKILLS A LITTLE BIT. ROBBIE CERTAINLY TAUGHT ME THAT. I MEAN, ROBBIE'S FAMILY SUSTAINED THEMSELVES FROM THE FOOD THAT THEY GATHERED FROM THE LAND, AND SO THAT MEANT FISH, IT MEANT RABBITS, SMALL GAME LIKE WOOD GROUSE, LARGE GAME LIKE CARIBOU AND BEAR. SO I CERTAINLY LEARNED SOME TRICKS WHEN IT COMES TO HUNTING. BUT I GOT SO MUCH MORE THAN THAT FROM ROBBIE. JUST SPENDING TIME WITH HIM. THIS IS A MAN WHO HAD SPENT HIS ENTIRE LIFE GROWING UP IN THIS PARTICULAR AREA OF (CREE) WHICH IS WHAT THE CREE CALLED THEIR LAND. HE KNEW THIS HUNTING TERRITORY LIKE THE BACK OF HIS HAND. HE HAD BEEN TASKED ON THE KNOWLEDGE OF THE LAND FROM HIS FATHER, FROM HIS GRANDFATHER, HIS GRANDFATHER, ET CETERA, ET CETERA. AND WHAT I REALLY LEARNED FROM ROBBIE WAS MORE A WAY OF LOOKING AT THE LAND AND HOW THE LAND WAS SO DEEPLY CONNECTED TO EVERYTHING THAT MAKES US INDIGENOUS. WHETHER IT WAS ABOUT OUR NAMES, WHETHER IT IS ABOUT OUR RESPECT FOR ELDERS, WHETHER IT IS ABOUT THE WAY THAT WE LOOK AT ANIMALS AND HARVESTING, SO MUCH OF IT I ENDED UP KIND OF TAKING IN BY OSMOSIS FROM ROBBIE MATTHEW, AND I'M SO GRATEFUL FOR THAT.

Nam says BEFORE YOU WENT TO THE TRAPLINE, YOU ACTUALLY SPENT TIME WITH THE FAMILY IN THEIR HOME IN AN URBAN SETTING. ROBBIE, HIS WIFE, HIS SON BRUCE. YOU LISTENED TO HEAVY METAL MUSIC AND COUNTRY MUSIC IN THE BASEMENT. HOW DID YOU... WHAT WOULD YOU SAY WERE THE DIFFERENCES WHEN THEY WERE IN THAT URBAN SETTING, WHEN YOU COMPARED IT TO WHEN THEY WERE ON THE TRAPLINE?

The caption changes to "Duncan McCue, @duncanmccue."

Duncan says THE RESERVE AT THE TIME, BACK THEN IT WAS ABOUT 2,000 PEOPLE. NOW IT'S ABOUT I THINK 4,000 PEOPLE. IT'S A FAIRLY LARGE INDIAN RESERVE. WHEN I FIRST ARRIVED, I ACTUALLY DIDN'T KNOW THE MATTHEWS FAMILY. I HADN'T MET THEM BEFORE. AND ALTHOUGH I LIVED IN CHISASIBI ABOUT FIVE YEARS, LIVING IN THEIR HOME BEFORE WE WENT OUT TO THE TRAPLINE WAS MY FIRST INTRODUCTION. YOU KNOW, YOU MENTIONED BRUCE. BRUCE WAS CLOSE IN AGE TO ME, A LITTLE BIT OLDER, AND I ENDED UP STAYING IN HIS BEDROOM WHILE WE WAITED FOR A FLOAT PLANE TO GO OUT TO THE HUNTING CABIN. AND BRUCE INTRODUCED ME TO HEAVY METAL, IRON MAIDEN AND STEVE EARL AND THAT KIND OF THING. BUT ALSO, YOU KNOW, WE SPENT SOME TIME HANGING OUT IN THE VILLAGE, AND FRANKLY, SPENT SOME HARD TIME DRINKING AS WELL. HE TOOK ME OUT AND INTRODUCED ME TO HIS DRINKING BUDDIES, AND, YOU KNOW, THAT'S A... IT'S A HARD PART OF INDIGENOUS LIFE IN THIS COUNTRY IS WATCHING OUR YOUTH, WHO DON'T HAVE A LOT TO DO AT TIMES, AND WATCHING THE FRUSTRATION AND THE BOREDOM THAT THEY EXPERIENCE, AND SO FOR BRUCE, WHO OUT ON THE LAND IS INCREDIBLY COMPETENT, KNOWLEDGEABLE, SKILLED WHEN IT COMES TO HOW TO SURVIVE AND HOW TO LIVE ON HIS OWN IN THE BUSH, IN THE VILLAGE, YOU KNOW, HE FOUND HIMSELF AT LOOSE ENDS, WITHOUT ANY WORK AND HAVING FINISHED SCHOOL, AND UNFORTUNATELY WE SPENT... WE SPENT A COUPLE OF DAYS OF HARD DRINKING. AND THAT TOO... I MEAN, IT WAS ALMOST A RELIEF TO GET OUT INTO THE BUSH TO SEE WHAT AN IMPACT IT HAD ON ROBBIE'S SONS, TO BE ABLE TO HAVE THAT FREEDOM OF BEING OUT IN THE WILDERNESS.

Nam says WHY WAS IT A RELIEF?

Duncan says BECAUSE... BECAUSE I'M WELL ACCUSTOMED TO SEEING THE CHALLENGES THAT OUR PEOPLE EXPERIENCE ON RESERVES. I'VE SEEN THAT MY WHOLE LIFE. YOU KNOW, WHATEVER INDIGENOUS COMMUNITY I HAVE VISITED, WE'VE SEEN... I'VE SEEN THE IMPACTS OF COLONIALISM, WHETHER IT'S THE SUBSTANCE ABUSE PROBLEMS, WHETHER IT'S SEXUAL ABUSE, WHETHER IT'S THE DROPOUT RATES AT SCHOOLS, I KNOW FULL WELL WHAT THE HARDSHIPS ARE ON FIRST NATION COMMUNITIES. SO IT WAS A RELIEF TO GO OUT IN THE BUSH AND TO SEE THAT, YOU KNOW, ROBBIE'S TEACHINGS, THAT THE WAY THAT HE HAD BEEN BROUGHT UP, WAS STILL SO INTACT. YOU KNOW, THIS IS NOT... LIVING AS A TRAPPER IS NOT A FAIRY TALE AND IT'S NOT PART OF OUR HISTORY BOOKS. THERE ARE INDIGENOUS PEOPLE RIGHT ACROSS THIS COUNTRY WHO CONTINUE TO SUSTAIN THEMSELVES FROM THE LAND AND IT'S AN IMPORTANT PART OF OUR ECONOMIES, IT'S AN IMPORTANT PART... AND IT'S A CRITICAL PART OF OUR CULTURE. SO SEEING THAT, BEING WITH ROBBIE MATTHEW, SR. AND HIS WIFE SALLY AND SEEING THEM PRACTICE LIFE ON THE LAND, THAT'S WHY IT WAS A RELIEF BECAUSE ALL OF A SUDDEN SO MUCH OF WHO I WAS AS A YOUNG INDIGENOUS TEENAGER BEGAN TO MAKE A LOT MORE SENSE.

Nam says YOU WRITE... TO EVALUATE TRAPPING AND HUNTING THROUGH A PURELY ECONOMIC LENS IS TO FUNDAMENTALLY MISUNDERSTAND ITS IMPORTANCE TO THE CREE WAY OF LIFE. IS THAT WHAT YOU MEAN BY THAT, OR DO YOU MEAN SOMETHING ELSE?

Duncan says WHAT I WAS REFERRING TO THERE WAS THAT IT'S ALMOST IMPOSSIBLE FOR A NATIVE OR A NON-NATIVE TRAPPER TO MAKE A LIVING OFF OF PURELY SELLING FURS. THE PRICE OF FUR HAS DECLINED SO DRAMATICALLY THAT IT WOULD BE VERY DIFFICULT TO BE ABLE TO SELL ENOUGH FUR AND IT WOULD BE FRANKLY HARMFUL TO THE ENVIRONMENT TO TRY TO SELL ENOUGH FUR TO SUSTAIN YOURSELF ON THE LAND. ON THE ONE HAND THERE'S A MODEST INCOME FROM LIVING A TRAPPING LIFESTYLE, BUT THERE'S SO MUCH MORE REASONS THAT THE CREE CONTINUE TO PURSUE THAT LIFESTYLE. AND THE EXAMPLE THAT I GAVE IN THE BOOK IS THE WALKING ELK CEREMONY. WHEN A YOUNG CREE CHILD IS ABLE TO WALK FOR THE FIRST TIME, THEY PRACTICE WHAT'S CALLED THE WALKING OUT CEREMONY AND IT'S A BEAUTIFUL, BEAUTIFUL CEREMONY, AND THE YOUNG TODDLER IS DRESSED UP IN VERY BEAUTIFUL REGALIA AND THE PARENTS WALK THEM AROUND AND THEY CARRY... YOUNG GIRLS CARRY A WOODEN AXE OR A WOODEN KNIFE, YOUNG BOYS CARRY A WOODEN RIFLE TO SYMBOLIZE WHAT THEY WILL BE GROWING UP INTO, AND THEN THEY WALK AROUND A POLE AND THEN THEY'RE LED INTO THE MIMIWOKWOK, WHICH IS A TEPEE IN ENGLISH, TO MEET THEIR ELDERS AND THEIR FAMILY WHO MAKE A BIG FUSS ABOUT THEM. THE IMPORTANCE OF THIS CEREMONY IS THAT RIGHT FROM AN EARLY AGE, CREE YOUTH ARE TAUGHT THAT THEIR FUTURE, WHAT THEY SHOULD BE ASPIRING TOWARD IS BEING CONNECTED TO (CREE,) THEY NEED TO HAVE THAT CONNECTION TO THE LAND. SO EVEN IF THEY END UP WORKING AT A DESK JOB, AN OFFICE JOB, FOR EXAMPLE, RIGHT THROUGHOUT THE CREE NATION REALLY HAVE CLOSE CONNECTIONS TO THAT HUNTING LIFESTYLE, WHETHER IT'S GOING OUT FISHING ON WEEKENDS, WHETHER IT'S GOING OUT FOR GOOSE BREAK WHEN THE GEESE ARE MIGRATING, IT'S JUST SUCH AN IMPORTANT ASPECT OF THE CULTURAL LIFE OF BEING CREE.

Nam says I WANT TO TALK TO YOU ABOUT SOME HISTORY. HOW DID THE JAMES BAY HYDROELECTRIC PROJECT IN THE 1970S CHANGE THINGS FOR THE CREE IN NORTHERN QUEBEC?

Duncan says IT WAS A DRAMATIC CHANGE, NAM. I MEAN, TO GO BACK, FOR THOSE WHO AREN'T FAMILIAR WITH THE AREA, IN THE 1970S, THE QUEBEC GOVERNMENT ANNOUNCED THAT IT WOULD BEGIN DAMMING SEVERAL OF THE RIVERS THAT FLOW INTO JAMES BAY, STARTING WITH WHAT THE CREE KNOW AS (CREE), NOW KNOWN AS THE GRAND RIVIERE, WHICH IS A MASSIVE, MASSIVE RIVER. IT WAS A MULTI BILLION DOLLAR HYDROELECTRIC PROJECT BACK IN THE 1970S, THAT QUEBEC WAS ACTUAL TYING TO ITS OWN NATIONALISTIC DREAMS, IT WANTED ECONOMIC INDEPENDENCE AND IT WANTED TO SELL THAT POWER AND HARNESS THE POWER OF THE NORTH TO SELL TO PRIMARILY THE NORTHEASTERN UNITED STATES. TO ACCOMPLISH, TO GET THE AMOUNT OF POWER THAT THEY WERE HOPING FOR, THEY FLOODED VAST TRACTS OF EEYOU ISTCHEE, COVERING UP MANY FAMILIES' HUNTING TERRITORIES, THE PLACES WHERE THEIR PEOPLE WERE BURIED, YOU KNOW, AND WITH ALMOST NO CONSULTATION AND THE ENVIRONMENTAL ASSESSMENT STANDARDS OF THE 1970S WERE NOTHING LIKE THEY ARE TODAY. SO IT WAS A GIGANTIC PROJECT THAT ALTERED THE LANDSCAPE DRAMATICALLY OF NORTHERN QUEBEC. NOT ONLY DID IT BUILD THESE MASSIVE DIKES THAT INVOLVED TONS OF FLOODING AND IT CHANGED THE FLOW OF SOME OF THE LARGEST RIVERS IN NORTHERN QUEBEC, BUT ALSO, TO GET ALL OF THE EQUIPMENT UP THERE FOR THIS MASSIVE PROJECT, THERE WAS A HUGE ROAD NETWORK THAT ENDED UP BEING BUILT, TO AN AREA THAT PRIOR TO THAT, YOU KNOW, ONLY ACCESSIBLE BY BOAT OR FLOAT PLANE AND NOW ALL OF A SUDDEN THE EIGHT CREE COMMUNITIES WERE CONNECTED BY A HUGE HIGHWAY NETWORK, WHICH HAD, YOU KNOW, INCREDIBLE IMPACTS ON THEIR WAY OF LIFE.

Nam says WERE THERE ANY BENEFITS AT ALL?

Duncan says THERE WERE BENEFITS. I THINK ON THE ONE HAND THERE WERE MANY FAMILIES WHO STILL MOURN TODAY THE FACT THAT THEIR HUNTING TERRITORIES ARE UNDER WATER. AND THERE ARE MANY CREE WHO THINK NOSTALGICALLY BACK TO THE TIME BEFORE THERE WAS REALLY CLOSE CONTACT WITH THE REST OF QUEBEC. BUT ABSOLUTELY, I MEAN, THE CREE THEMSELVES, YOU KNOW, WITH THE HYDROELECTRIC PROJECT LOOMING UPON THEM, SIGNED THE JAMES BAY NORTHERN QUEBEC AGREEMENT, WHICH WAS THE FIRST KIND OF MODERN LAND CLAIM AGREEMENT IN CANADA. THERE IS LOTS TO BE DESIRED... OR LOTS THAT THEY WERE CRITICIZED FOR ABOUT SIGNING THAT AGREEMENT. BUT THEY ENDED UP WITH A FORM OF SELF GOVERNANCE WHICH, YOU KNOW, THE CREES SPEAK HIGHLY OF NOW TODAY. I MEAN, THEY RUN THEIR OWN SCHOOL BOARD, WHICH IS WHAT MY FATHER WENT UP TO WORK FOR. THEY RUN THEIR OWN HEALTH BOARD. THEY HAVE AN AIRLINE, FOR EXAMPLE, THERE ARE MANY INDEPENDENT BUSINESSES THAT THE CREE OWN AND OPERATE AND HIRE THEIR OWN PEOPLE. SO THERE HAVE ABSOLUTELY BEEN BENEFITS FROM WHAT WAS A DIFFICULT SITUATION FOR THE CREE.

Nam says WITHIN THE BOOK, YOU DO TALK ABOUT THE HISTORY OF THAT AREA, BUT YOU ALSO TALK ABOUT... BECAUSE IT IS A MEMOIR... YOU TALK ABOUT SOME OF THE CHALLENGES THAT YOU WERE EXPERIENCING, THE GROWTH THAT YOU WERE HAVING. BUT DURING THOSE MONTHS OF LEARNING TO HUNT, YOU FELT DEFEATED AT TIMES AND YOU ACTUALLY DESCRIBED YOURSELF AS A PRETTY LOUSY INDIAN. WHY DID YOU FEEL LIKE THAT?

Duncan says I WAS 17 YEARS OLD. THAT'S A DIFFICULT TIME FOR EVERYONE. I BET IT WAS DIFFICULT FOR YOU, NAM, BEING THAT AGE. YOU KNOW, YOU'RE DEALING WITH PIMPLES AND BEING AND HORNY AND HORMONES AND ALL KINDS OF AWFUL THINGS WHEN YOU'RE THAT AGE. BUT ON TOP OF THAT, FOR ME, I WAS TRYING TO GRAPPLE WITH WHO I WAS AS A YOUNG ANISHINAABE. I'M ALSO A HALFER. MY MOTHER IS WHITE, HAS BLOND HAIR AND BLUE EYES. MY FATHER IS ANISHINAABE FROM THE CHIPPEWAS OF GEORGINA ISLAND IN SOUTHERN ONTARIO. SO I WAS DEALING WITH A DUAL IDENTITY, TRYING TO FIGURE OUT, YOU KNOW, WHO I WAS AS AN INDIAN, IF YOU WILL. UNFORTUNATELY WHAT I LEARNED ABOUT BEING INDIGENOUS IN MY GRADE SCHOOL WAS A VIEW OF INDIGENOUS PEOPLE THAT WAS STUCK IN THE PAST. WE ONLY... WE ONLY LEARNED... YOU KNOW, I REMEMBER BUILDING TEPEES AND CANOES WITH PLASTER PLASTISCINE IN MY GRADE 4 CLASS. THAT WAS THE ONLY INTRODUCTION WE HAD TO INDIGENOUS PEOPLE IN OUR CLASSROOM. POPULAR MEDIA WAS, YOU KNOW, WATCHING PETER PAN CARTOONS AND INDIANS DANCING AROUND TO DRUM BEATS IN KIND OF A RACIST PANTOMIME. SO I HAD ALL THESE COMPETING POPULAR NOTIONS OF WHAT INDIAN-NESS MEANT, AND THEN HERE I WAS GOING FROM SOUTHERN ONTARIO, WHERE I WAS THE ONLY NATIVE CHILD AT MY SCHOOL, TO A COMMUNITY IN NORTHERN QUEBEC WHERE THEY CALLED ME (CREE) WHICH MEANS WHITE MAN BECAUSE I DIDN'T SPEAK FLUENT CREE. SO ALL OF THESE NOTIONS OF INDIGENEITY WERE COMPETING IN MY BRAIN AS A 17-YEAR-OLD AND I DIDN'T KNOW WHERE I FIT IN. I REALLY DIDN'T. AND SO I... THAT'S WHAT PART OF THE JOURNEY WAS ABOUT, GOING OUT ON THE TRAPLINE, WAS HOPEFULLY THAT I WOULD BE ABLE TO LEARN MORE ABOUT MY ANCESTORS AND MY HERITAGE. BUT I TOOK SOME OF THE SETBACKS PRETTY HARD, AS A YOUNG TEENAGER AND, YOU KNOW, WHEN I FAILED... AND I FAILED HARD AS A HUNTER...

The caption changes to "Duncan McCue. CBC Radio."

Duncan continues YOU KNOW, I THOUGHT, MY GOD, YOU KNOW, I'M A LOUSY INDIAN. AND ONE OF THE SCENES THAT I WRITE ABOUT IN THE BOOK, I ACTUALLY HAD NOT TOLD ANYBODY. I HAD BURIED AND FORGOTTEN IN MY MEMORY, BUT I SET OUT ONE DAY, DETERMINED TO GO AND CATCH MYSELF A BEAVER. BRUCE AND I HAD SPOTTED A BEAVER POND A GOOD HALF-DAY HIKE AWAY FROM OUR HUNTING CABIN, AND I DECIDED THAT ONE DAY I WAS GOING TO GO AND GET THAT BEAVER ON MY OWN. WHEN YOU'RE HUNTING, WHEN YOU'RE SHOOTING BEAVER AS OPPOSED TO TRAPPING IT, YOU ONLY GET ONE SHOT. THE BEAVER, THEY SPOOK EASILY AND THEY'LL DISAPPEAR IF YOU AREN'T@<Ñ SUCCESSFUL. SO I MADE MY WAY OUT TO THE POND AND SAT THERE IN THE COLD, WAITING, WAITING, WAITING. SUDDENLY THE LITTLE BEAVER SHOWED UP, STUCK OUT ITS HEAD AND BEGAN SWIMMING ACROSS THE POND. SO I GOT... YOU KNOW, I TOOK A DEEP BREATH, READIED MYSELF, TOOK A SHOT AND I MISSED BY A MILE. I MEAN, I MISSED BY A MILE. I WASN'T EVEN CLOSE. SO THE BEAVER WENT UNDER THE WATER AND BACK INTO THE LODGE AGAIN. AND I KNEW IT WAS GOING TO BE A LONG, LONG WALK BACK TO THE CABIN. AS I STARTED OUT ON MY WALK, I GUESS IT WAS... BEING COLD, BEING TIRED, BEING FRUSTRATED WITH MYSELF, BUT I STOPPED ON A HILLTOP AND LOOKED OUT OVER THE LAND, AND ALL OF THE DISCOURAGEMENT, ALL OF THE... ALL OF THE FRUSTRATIONS THAT I FELT, ALL OF THE CHALLENGES WITH MY IDENTITY, IT ALL SEEMED TO KIND OF COME TO BEAR AT THAT PARTICULAR POINT AND, I THOUGHT SERIOUSLY ABOUT KILLING MYSELF AT THAT POINT. I HAD A RIFLE IN... THAT I WAS CARRYING, OBVIOUSLY, AND I SAT THERE FOR A GOOD COUPLE OF HOURS AND CONTEMPLATED THAT. AND LIKE I SAID, NAM, I DIDN'T TELL ANYBODY THIS. I DIDN'T TELL ROBBIE OR BRUCE THAT EVENING. I NEVER TOLD MY PARENTS. IT WASN'T UNTIL I SAT DOWN TO WRITE THE BOOK THAT I EVEN REMEMBERED IT. AND THAT WAS... IT'S AN ILLUSTRATION OF, YOU KNOW, SOME OF THE CHALLENGES I WAS FACING MYSELF IN TERMS OF GRAPPLING WITH THIS, AND I THINK THAT THERE ARE A LOT OF YOUNG INDIGENOUS YOUTH WHO GO THROUGH THE SAME THING. YOU KNOW, THE EXAMPLES THAT THEY ARE GIVEN FOR THE MOST PART IN THEIR SCHOOLING IS THE WHITE SUCCESS, IT IS TO ASPIRE TO THE KINDS OF MODELS OF SUCCESS THAT CERTAINLY THE SOUTH BUT MORE PARTICULARLY THAT WHITE PEOPLE PATTERN AND THERE AREN'T A LOT OF EXAMPLES THAT THEY'RE GIVEN IN EITHER THEIR SCHOOLING OR IN POPULAR MEDIA OF WHAT SUCCESS LOOKS LIKE FOR INDIGENOUS PEOPLE. AND SO, YOU KNOW, IT CAN BE CONFUSING. AND I OFTEN WONDER IF WE DID A BETTER JOB OF TELLING OUR YOUNG INDIGENOUS PEOPLE THAT THEY CAN BE GREAT, THEY CAN ACHIEVE GREATNESS AND SUCCESS WITHIN OUR COMMUNITIES AND WITHIN OUR OWN TEACHINGS AND LIFESTYLES, THAT MAYBE WE WOULDN'T HAVE THE SUICIDE PROBLEM THAT WE SEE IN SO MANY COMMUNITIES.

Nam says IT MUST MEAN A LOT FOR... THANK YOU, FIRST OF ALL, FOR SHARING THAT. BECAUSE EVEN IN THE BOOK, YOU DID WRITE SOMETHING THAT I'VE NEVER CONSIDERED... WE ONLY HAVE A FEW MINUTES... I WANTED TO GET A COUPLE MORE QUESTIONS IN. YOU DID WRITE: SOME STUDIES SUGGEST INCREASED LEVELS OF EDUCATION MAY PUT INDIGENOUS YOUTH AT AN INCREASED RISK FOR SUICIDE. THAT'S SOMETHING THAT I'VE NEVER... I DIDN'T KNOW. WHY IS THAT?

Duncan says IT GOES BACK TO YOUR EARLIER QUESTION, NAM. WHAT I WONDER IS IF WE HAVE... WE ARE TEACHING INDIGENOUS YOUTH WITH A CURRICULUM THAT DOESN'T RELATE TO THEIR LIVES, THAT DOESN'T RELATE TO THE THINGS THAT THEY KNOW AND THAT THEY EXPERIENCE IN THE NORM. SO YOU ASKED ABOUT BRUCE AND THE KIND OF TRANSFORMATION THAT HE WENT THROUGH WHEN HE WAS LIVING ON THE RESERVE VERSUS BEING OUT IN THE BUSH. I THINK THAT STUDIES HAVE SHOWN THAT COMMUNITIES THAT... THE FIRST NATION COMMUNITIES THAT HAVE STRONG SELF GOVERNANCE, THAT HAVE STRONG CONNECTIONS TO THEIR CULTURE AND LANGUAGE, AND THAT HAVE SOME LEVEL OF SELF DETERMINATION WHEN IT COMES TO THEIR ACTIVITIES ON THE LAND, THEY DON'T HAVE A SUICIDE PROBLEM. AND SO IF WE'RE ABLE TO CONNECT INDIGENOUS YOUTH TO THE LAND, WHETHER IT'S GOING OUT AND HUNTING CAMPS IN EEYOU ISTCHEE OR GOING ON CANOE TRIPS IN BRITISH COLUMBIA, WHATEVER THE CONNECTION TO THE LAND OF THAT FIRST NATION MAY BE, I THINK IT'S REALLY IMPORTANT THAT OUR YOUTH HAVE A STRONG CONNECTION TO WHERE THEY COME FROM SO THAT THEY WILL KNOW WHERE THEY'RE GOING IN THE FUTURE.

Nam says IN THE BOOK YOU MAKE FUN OF YOURSELF A LOT WITH YOUR HUNTING SKILLS. YOU SAID THAT YOU...

Duncan says I HAD TO. I'M REALLY NOT A VERY GOOD HUNTER.

Nam says YOU DESCRIBE YOURSELF, YOU CAN'T HUNT IN THE BUSH, BUT YOU BECAME A HUNTER OF A DIFFERENT SORT, WHICH IS THAT OF STORIES.

Duncan says YES.

Nam says IN YOUR POSITION, YOU'RE ONE OF THE MOST WELL-KNOWN JOURNALISTS ACROSS CANADA IN ALL DISCIPLINES, DO YOU EVER FIND IT'S DIFFICULT, EMOTIONAL WORK TO DO WHEN YOU ARE COVERING STORIES AND SOME OF THE CONTEXT IS MISSED?

Duncan says THE CONTEXT IS MISSED, YEAH, IT'S ONE OF THE BIGGEST COMPLAINTS THAT OUR INDIGENOUS AUDIENCES HAVE ABOUT OUR JOURNALISM, NAM, IS THAT SO OFTEN WHEN WE GO TO REPORT PARTICULARLY ON TRAGEDIES OR CRISES IN FIRST NATION COMMUNITIES, WHETHER IT'S A SUICIDE CRISIS, WHETHER IT IS CHILD WELFARE CRISIS, WHETHER IT IS HOUSES BURNING DOWN, YOU KNOW, YOU NAME IT, WHEN NEWS CREWS HEAD OFF TO REPORT ON THESE TRAGEDIES, THEY OFTEN MISS THE DEEPER CONTEXT OF THE STORY, AND I KNOW... I UNDERSTAND WHY. I'M A WORKING JOURNALIST. I UNDERSTAND THAT IT'S DIFFICULT TO PACK SO MUCH INFORMATION INTO A 2-MINUTE TELEVISION STORY OR A 1-MINUTE RADIO STORY, 700-WORD ONLINE ARTICLE. BUT WE HAVE TO DO A BETTER JOB AS JOURNALISTS OF TRYING TO EDUCATE CANADIANS ABOUT THE COLONIAL HISTORY THAT GOT US INTO THIS SITUATION IN THE FIRST PLACE. SO MANY CANADIANS, UNFORTUNATELY, INDIGENOUS AND NON-INDIGENOUS, HAVE NOT HAD AN OPPORTUNITY TO LEARN THAT HISTORY IN OUR CLASSROOMS, AND THIS IS WHAT THE TRUTH AND RECONCILIATION COMMISSION POINTED OUT. THIS IS WHY THE TRUTH AND RECONCILIATION COMMISSION SAID THAT MEDIA HAVE TO BE PART OF RECONCILIATION IN THIS COUNTRY, AND PART OF IT IS EXACTLY WHAT YOU MENTION, IS UNTEACHING CANADIANS THE CONTEXT OF WHY FIRST NATIONS HAVE, FOR EXAMPLE, SUCH... YOU KNOW, THERE ARE SO MANY FIRST NATIONS THAT HAVE UNDRINKABLE DRINKING WATER, FOR EXAMPLE; WHY, YOU KNOW, THE HISTORY THAT HAS LED UP TO THE CURRENT SLATE OF PROBLEMS THAT FACE SO MANY FIRST NATION COMMUNITIES.

The caption changes to "Producer: Carla Lucchetta, @carrletta."

Nam says DUNCAN, THANK YOU SO MUCH. IT'S BEEN A PLEASURE SPEAKING WITH YOU. CONGRATULATIONS ON THE MASSEY FELLOWSHIP. I HAVE TO ADMIT SOME PROFESSIONAL JEALOUSY. YOU CAN WRITE, YOU BROADCAST. WHAT CAN YOU NOT DO?

Duncan says WHAT I CAN'T DO IS BE IN THE STUDIO THERE WITH YOU. I WISH I COULD. I MEAN, LOOK AT ME. I'M STUCK IN THIS LITTLE TINY OFFICE IN THE CBC. I WISH I COULD BE THERE IN THE STUDIO WITH YOU, NAM.

Nam says HOPEFULLY WE'LL SEE EACH OTHER IN REAL LIFE SOON. THANKS AGAIN, DUNCAN. CONGRATULATIONS AND EVERYTHING.

Duncan says MIIGWECH. TAKE CARE.

Watch: Duncan McCue: Learning to Live Off the Land