What I did for my summer holidays
April 06th, 2016
Duncan McCue, current affairs reporter for the CBC’s flagship show, The National, has published his first book, The Shoe Boy (Nonvella Publishing $13.95). The memoir covers the five months that McCue spent in a Cree hunting camp when he was seventeen.
It was a pivotal time in his life as he describes in the first chapter. The scene is an awards dinner he attends as an established journalist. Overhearing two producers talk about their camping experiences, he leans in to interject.
“-I once lived in the bush for five months, I say. We washed our hair three times, in a laundry tub.
The women turn to me with curiosity. I’m the only Indian at the table. At parties full of smart and wealthy white people, I’m accustomed to being perceived as both exotic and oppressed. In such settings, I rarely share stories about the season I spent living in the wilds of northern Quebec with a Cree trapper and his family. But, tonight, this feels good.
-We trapped otter, muskrat, and beaver. We snared rabbits. We hunted grouse, ducks, and ptarmigan. We shot a caribou and a bear.
In this crowd, I may as well be talking about my trip to Mars. But I’m not whipping this story as a badge of indigeneity, like a Costco card that proves I’m a paid-up member of the club. No, this story is like the rosary beads in my mother-in-law’s purse: worn and comforting, yet an enduring symbol of mystery. It’s been over twenty years since I went hunting in the bush with Robbie Matthew Sr., and I’m still trying to unpack what I learned there.”
McCue is Anishinaabe, a member of the Chippewas of Georgina Island First Nation in southern Ontario. He lives with his wife and two children in Vancouver. 978-0-9936216-6-6