By Monique DuBray

Wab Kinew spoke to students at Nbisiing Secondary School.

Wab Kinew spoke to students at Nbisiing Secondary School.

NIPISSING FN –For years, Indigenous people had many reasons to hunt moose for other reasons than to provide food.The animal’s fur was used as clothing, the bones became tools and the skins provided strength for shelters. Nothing was left behind because everything, in life, is a gift.

Today, education is the new moose, says Wab Kinew. “Education is the key to having a roof over our heads, feeding our children, and getting the clothing we need.”

This was the message that the CBC journalist and hip-hop artist delivered to high school students at Nbisiing Secondary School on March 8.

Kinew, who hosted the critically-acclaimed CBC series “Eighth Fire”, led a drum circle in the opening ceremony that filled the room with a sense of peace and unity. When Kinew took the stage, he shared personal stories of overcoming hardships and stereotypes in order to help students get on the path to success.

“We may start life with obstacles, with more challenges, but you cannot tell me that the road to the top is not open for you. It is. For every single one of you, it is strictly a function on how hard you are willing to work, and whether you are willing to make sacrifices and display the dedication it takes to get to the top.”

Blair Beaucage, former Nbisiing student and drum circle member, was proud to see his peers taking in Kinew’s advice.

“Just by looking around, you saw all the students really paying attention and nodding their heads, understanding Wab’s message. He’s a big role model for a lot of people that go here, we look up to him.”

Kinew held the students’ attention for six hours, talking about his youth, explaining how sometimes it was hard to be an Aboriginal in certain places. Dealing with racism is not an easy task, he said, but he always kept his pride.

“At the end of the day, I know I’m working hard to achieve something. Starting a fight with some nobody at work because of some stupid comment isn’t worth risking that. Be proud of who you are, and never let anyone convince you otherwise.”

Nbisiing Secondary student, Steven Rickard, introduced Wab Kinew, and participated in the morning drum circle. Rickard is a believer in Kinew’s inspirational message.

“Education is important. It’s something that is lacking on most reserves around Canada because most youth are dropping out. They don’t feel like they fit in. Having people like Wab coming to our school is great motivation.”

Kinew’s four-part television series “8th Fire” refers to an Anishinabek prophecy that predicted a future of eternal peace if newcomers to North America seek to live in harmony with First Peoples and their natural surroundings. He has been named best Winnipeg Journalist by Uptown Magazine and has won an Adrienne Clarkson RTNDA (Radio-Television News Directors Association) award. He has also been nominated for a Gemini Award.

Lately, Kinew has been in the public eye because of his involvement with the Idle No More movement. He has been a major advocate for the project and is encouraging youth to step up and stand up for their rights.

“Idle No More is driven by youth. It was started by middle-aged people, but the actual strength of it comes from the youth. The people who are organized the flash mob round dances and rallies are predominantly the young ones.” Kinew explains.

As for the future, he says “I’ll probably start getting back into broadcasting again. Not just interviews but start doing some (television) shows again.”