Duncan McCue, LLB'96

The Last Word

Duncan McCue, LLB'96

Q: If a genie granted you one wish, what would it be?
A: Global Indigenous self‑determination. Make it so.

Award‑winning journalist Duncan McCue is the host of CBC Radio One’s Cross Country Checkup. McCue was a reporter for CBC News in Vancouver for over 15 years and taught journalism at the UBC Graduate School of Journalism. During this time, he was recognized by the Canadian Ethnic Media Association with an Innovation Award for developing curriculum on Indigenous issues. Now based in Toronto, his news and current affairs pieces continue to be featured on CBC’s flagship news show, The National.

McCue’s work has garnered several awards from the Radio Television Digital News Association and the Jack Webster Foundation. He was part of a CBC Aboriginal investigation into missing and murdered Indigenous women that won numerous honours, including the Hillman Award for Investigative Journalism. In 2011, he was awarded a Knight Fellowship at Stanford University, where he created an online guide for journalists called Reporting in Indigenous Communities (riic.ca).

McCue is also an author. His book The Shoe Boy: A Trapline Memoir recounts a season he spent in a hunting camp with a Cree family in northern Quebec as a teenager. Before becoming a journalist, McCue studied English at the University of King’s College, then law at UBC. He was called to the bar in British Columbia in 1998.

McCue is Anishinaabe, a member of the Chippewas of Georgina Island First Nation in southern Ontario, and the proud father of two children.

Follow Duncan McCue on Twitter @DuncanMcCue

What is your most prized possession?
If the house was burning down, first thing I’d grab are my journals and family photos. Precious connective tissue to my past.

Who was your childhood hero?
Wayne Gretzky. Wept like a baby when he was traded to LA, then I went back to being a Leafs fan.

Describe the place you most like to spend time.
Sitting on the dock of the bay (or lake or river).

What was the last thing you read?
Embers by Richard Wagamese. Sadly, he died not long after I read it. Such a loss.

What or who makes you laugh out loud?
Both my kids tease me irreverently, and make me snort on a regular basis.

What’s the most important lesson you ever learned?
“Do unto others...” I’m not Christian, but as far as a succinct principle to guide one’s life, that’s a pretty sweet lesson.

What’s your idea of the perfect day?
The perfect day is when I learn something, when I feel an emotion and when I am alive to the world around me: seeing, smelling, tasting, listening. The BEST day is when I manage to capture that day in written word.

What was your nickname at school?
In elementary, I was cursed with Dunkin Donuts and Duncan Hines (as in cake mix). In high school, Funky Dunky was bandied about but never stuck.

What would be the title of your autobiography?
The Utterly Unverified Shoe Boy Chronicles

If a genie granted you one wish, what would it be?
Global Indigenous self‑determination. Make it so.

What item have you owned for the longest time?
My classic English teddy bear. Given to me by my Mom in my first year of life. Still watches over me at night.

What is your latest purchase?
A USB charging cable. I leave so many of those things in hotel rooms...

Whom do you most admire (living or dead) and why?
Malcom X. What a life, what a man. I admire his brains, his fire, his willingness to acknowledge and learn from his mistakes.

What would you like your epitaph to say?
“He helped his community. Oh, and told some pretty good stories.”

If you could invent something, what would it be?
A lightsabre. Natch. And I’d like to be able to fix the hyperdrive.

In which era would you most like to have lived, and why?
I’d love to know what it was really like at First Contact in this place known as Turtle Island.

What are you afraid of?
I fear failing. I know I’d be a better person if I could embrace failure – but I’m failing at that.

Name the skill or talent you would most like to have.
To stickhandle without looking at the puck and deke a goalie out of his jockstrap, while doing my own play‑by‑play in Anisinaabemowin (the Ojibway language).

Which three pieces of music would you take to that desert island?
Collected works of Neil Young, Blue Rodeo and U2.

Which famous person (living or dead) do you think (or have you been told) you most resemble?
I’ve been told Johnny Depp and – whoah – Keanu Reeves.

What is your pet peeve?
I really can’t stand paying for campsites. It really bugs me.

What are some of your UBC highlights?
The Aboriginal Moot in law school. Sweatlodges at the UBC First Nations House of Learning. And, when I became an adjunct professor, launching the Reporting in Indigenous Communities course at the Graduate School of Journalism.