Rudy Kelly                          Aboriginal writer         

About writing and stories of Aboriginal people on the North Coast of British Columbia

Welcome to Rudy Kelly, Aboriginal Writer, my home for my blog and my projects, including my first novel, ALL NATIVE. To start, I will present excerpts of my novel and write about the process of writing it and, of writing, in general. I'm quite opinionated, so, occasionally, there will be an opinion piece! I hope you enjoy it.

Who do you believe?

I got a message from an old friend a couple of days ago, asking me, as a former reporter, that question. What were the most reliable sources of news? He didn’t have to tell me why he was asking – I knew, and it made me sad.

I remember a time when most media were trusted.

On TV, it was the big three American stations, ABC, CBS and NBC, while in Canada, it was CBC nationally and BCTV provincially. I was pretty young when cable came along, pulling open the curtain to a big, new, bright world dominated by the U.S.

In print, the Globe and Mail was (and continues to be, I believe) the gold standard and the Canadian Press fed most papers, including the Prince Rupert Daily News, where I worked. It was always exciting to get one of my stories picked up on the CP wire.

I didn’t experience being a writer for a paper with an agenda for too long, as the clear shift to a right-wing bias at the Daily didn’t happen until my latter years in the mid-late 90s. I recall being asked to write an editorial condemning local fisherman for blockading the Alaska ferry and I refused, even under threat of firing. That didn’t mean I agreed with the fishermen’s actions but, after their concerns had been ignored by Ottawa for so long, I wasn’t going to condemn them either.

Today, well, the number of media outlets with agendas far outnumber those without. There are too many, particularly online, to name but they are very easy to spot: they have provocative names, like Rebel Media and The Drudge Report. These extreme sites are the new porn.

In Canada, the right wing owns most of the big media, including the Sun chain, The National Post and, in my neck of the woods, Black Press. Post Media, which has 140 outlets in print and online, is almost entirely American owned. So maybe we shouldn’t be too hard on the CBC for leaning left, although theirs is also a self-preservation battle as Conservatives have long wanted the CBC (at the least, TV) taken off of the public teat. The aforementioned Globe and Mail also leans Liberal.

These are incredibly polarizing times, in no small part due to the rise of Trumpism and the term “fake news,” which refers to any news that is critical of or contradicts him or his government. It has certainly made elections in the U.S. more colorful. News outlets choose sides, which makes the viewing livelier but too outrageous for my liking. It’s hard to take the pundits seriously. Certainly, Canada has its share of agenda news agencies but, as in most things we share with the U.S., we will always be America-lite – which is a good thing.

All of that said, while most media may follow political lines editorially, most report with reasonable fairness. And it is that message I gave to my friend.

Avoid the extreme outlets, that are hard right or left. Those are for people with blinders, whom desperately want their prejudices confirmed. It’s lazy and self-indulgent. We all need to challenge our beliefs. There are few, if any, absolute truths in human systems.

Focus on news stories or features more than editorials. There’s a reason that the big TV outlets and major newspapers, the “mainstream” media, are more read. They want more people to follow them, to subscribe to them, and for that to happen, they need to be believed by more people. Do they still editorialize? Yes. But, while CNN may often editorialize against Trump, their news product still cites sources from both sides.

Even Fox News, which is the most unabashedly biased of the networks, leaves most of the truth-bending to its talking heads and some of them, to their credit, have challenged Trump narratives lately to the point that he is condemning them now and pushing alternative outlets.

It’s the same in Canada. The CBC may lean left and The National Post may lean right but the stories are still written by real, working journalists that still value the craft’s core principles of balance (portraying both sides) and attribution (having people with close knowledge or authority speak to it).

My personal preference is actual, hard-copy reputable newspapers with an online presence, which is most of them. A subscription is pretty cheap – certainly cheaper than picking up a physical copy, which is impossible where I live anyway. I subscribe to the Washington Post for U.S. and world news, and the Globe and Mail for Canadian content. Of course, you can find good sources on the free MSN online, but check the sources as they are hugely varied. Names like Canadian Press, Associated Press, and Reuters are highly trustworthy.

Bottom line: don’t waste your time on the blatantly biased. Read a lot - so few of us do it enough anymore. Liberals are not communists. Conservatives are not Nazis. The truth is out there. If you believe you are a fair and kind person, care enough to find it.

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It’s raining in Rupert.

I know, not exactly a news flash but it may help answer the question of “to trick or treat or not to trick or treat” for some people. “Sorry, kiddo, the weather's too bad,” will get some parents out of it.

We have determined that we would still do it – keeping in line with Dr. Henry’s advice, of course, which was that we can do it with proper precautions. Still, we will miss some of the pageantry that went along with it.

There will be no Halloween Fest, the huge gathering at the community centre, of course. And no fireworks – unless you count the jerks who do them year-round at all hours of the night. There will be no parties, which means my older sister will not vie for the best costume in the contests at the bars, as she usually does with great enthusiasm.

Halloween was a big thing for me for many years. I was quite good at making costumes. Part of this was out of necessity as I cornered myself into doing a costume every week for a time as the movie reviewer for The Daily News.

My column (which actually won a provincial award) was called VideoView, and it featured a mugshot of me done up as a character in one of the movies I reviewed. I was Batman, Chaplin, James Bond, Scrooge, and Whoopi Goldberg in Sister Act! When I left the paper, the staff gave me a large framed collection of all of the faces; one of the best, most thoughtful presents ever.

Of course, I also dressed up for parties. One Halloween, at the bowling alley, I was Robocop, and me and the Hulk (Lyle McNish) tossed Super Dave Osborne (Barry Eso) down the lanes, helmet first. We didn’t get a strike and, um, Super Dave’s belt bucket may have put a bit of a scratch on the lane. Sorry, Joey!

Even with my enthusiasm diminished lately, I still find a way to get up for it due to having a little boy and a partner who absolutely loves Halloween and dressing up. She comes up with the most creative costumes! One year, we went as the unlikely pair of Barack Obama and Sarah Palin.

This year, my eight-year-old, Conall, went as the Black Panther, paying tribute to the late Chadwick Bosman. On Friday, his class did a walk-by parade at the senior citizens’ complex. I’m glad that it wasn’t cancelled and heard that it was very much appreciated by the residents.

Life goes on or, as Jeff Goldblum said in Jurassic Park, it “finds a way.”

If anything, that may be our greatest strength: our stubbornness. Can’t shake hands? Okay, we’ll tap elbows. Can’t meet in person? We’ll Zoom (sorry, Skype). My kid is in swim club and gymnastics. Minor basketball is happening. I’ve gone to two movies recently.

Oh, sure we’re going to have some “new normals” after this is all over but we’re used to that too; just like we started wearing seatbelts, washing our vegetables and sneezing into our sleeves. And, well, since it’s Halloween, you were going to wear a mask anyway, and maybe some gloves. Should also check the candy. It’s not really that much different.

Speaking of masks, one thing I really miss is live theatre; watching it and being in it. In bringing it back, we’re going to have to be creative – which is fine since that’s what theatre folks are. It is going to be challenging and we’re going to have to think outside the box but, hey, ever seen a Cirque de Soleil show?? We’ll figure it out.

Happy Halloween, everyone.

And, remember, it’s okay to be scared but, eventually, the lights will come on again. And the curtain will rise, and good people will take their bows and point to the unsung heroes, and there will be applause and smiles.

Life really is a stage, so play your part as best as you can and trust those around you.

Hello, everyone! I hope you’re enjoying your Sunday. It’s an overcast day here in Rupert with rain imminent – in other words, it’s classic Rupert and perfect writing weather.

I thought it was time that I gave an update to my legions of fans – and, by that, I mean that my fans might be able to fill a couple of small Royal Canadian Legion halls, under extreme social distancing rules. :)

Sales for my novel, All Native, have gone well despite the shutdown. While the summer was fairly slow, September was very strong as were the opening months, bolstered by the official winter launch and having a table at the All Native Tournament in February. My main disappointment is not being to get out there and visit some other communities for readings. The good news is that All Native has sold well enough that it looks like we will be going to a second printing! So, if you liked the book, keep spreading the word.

Also, I am likely to put out a digital version of All Native and, perhaps an audio book. Is that something that you, my readers, think would go well? Please share your thoughts!

Meanwhile, I continue to work on new material including a prequel to All Native that focuses on the BJ Woods character and, possibly, a third book that wraps up BJ and Frank/Jolene’s stories. I also have a handful of other stories in mind, including turning my 3-Day Novel Writing Contest entry, from way back, into a full-length novel.

Finally, as you may have seen earlier on my Facebook page, Muskeg Press (which published All Native) will soon be releasing its latest book of fiction, titled, Influenced: Stories from the Lockdown. I’m pleased to be a part of it, having contributed one of the 10 short stories, titled Open Door, in the compilation. A big thanks to Muskeg owner, Chris Armstrong, for putting this together.

To pre-order Influenced: Stories from the Lockdown, go here: https://muskegpress.com/products/influenced-stories-from-the-lockdown

Finally, some of you may have listened to the interview I did recently on CFNR radio’s show, Journeys. Well, one of my friends was quick to point out that, when I ran through my writing resume, I neglected to mention that I am also a playwright – which was a big oversight, considering I have written many! So, look for more on my playwriting on this blog/website, including making my plays available for reading.

Outside of story writing, of course, I have been blogging about recent issues and greatly appreciate the feedback from readers. These are interesting, challenging times. The pandemic is a crisis unlike any most of us have seen but it may have taught us something too, revealing what is wrong in our world and what needs to be changed.

Stay tuned!

Products

Product

All Native

The debut novel for Aboriginal author Rudy Kelly.

Contact

1640 - 7th Avenue East

Prince Rupert, BC

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250-600-6505

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