It was the director of education at the UOI, the late Merle Pegahmagabow, also of Wasauksing, who ensured the Anishinabek News had a freelance budget for student writers. And one of the regional Elders of the Anishinabek Nation was Flora Tabobondung, a former chief of Wasauskaing.
Rice went on to graduate from Ryerson University’s journalism program in 2002 and much of his working career has been with the CBC, earning the Anishinabek Nation’s Debwewin Award for Excellence in First Nation’s Storytelling in 2014.
In an interview after selling and autographing books, Rice said it’s been a great honour to be an Indigenous author.
“I was mentored by many very helpful and resourceful people,” Rice said. The acknowledgements at the back of his novel mention many, including his late Aunt Elaine Kelly, a teacher, who opened his eyes to Indigenous authors and their literature. “I think, most importantly, though I’ve been supported by a very loving and supportive family and community of Wasauksing.”
Reflecting on his mainstream education, Rice said it would have been tougher had he not had early cultural and community upbringing.