Story Untold: “[Seven Geese] Taught Me What Was Really Important in Life”

Story Untold with Michael Quetting

There’s parenthood, and then there’s becoming a parent to seven geese overnight. For one year, laboratory manager Michael Quetting lived that reality as part of his work with the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology, based in Germany.

An ultralight pilot by hobby, Quetting had been tasked with raising a gaggle of goslings so that he could train them to fly alongside him and eventually log weather data.

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“We try to estimate wind speed and wind direction out of a bird’s flight,” he explains.

“That data doesn’t exist at the moment. That real-time data, where you are at the moment, 2,000 metres above, nobody knows.”

For three months, Quetting spent every waking moment with the geese, living in a trailer van near the institute in Radolfzell — a story that has become Quetting’s debut book, Papa Goose. From the time the goslings hatched, he had imprinted himself as their caretaker — a relatively simple process, he explains.

“I rushed into the basement of the Institute, and there was this little egg, and you could already see the little beak. After ten hours, there was this yellow fluffy ball sitting there, looking at you and peeping at you.” – Michael Quetting

“If one of the little geese hatches, and you are the first thing they see, and you take care of them, then they [get] imprinted to you. It [doesn’t have] to be human; it could also be a football or something,” says Quetting.

Before long, the goslings had made their mark on Quetting, too. When the first hatched, the fluffy gosling nestled itself under his shirt to sleep.

“It goes really quick that the little goose conquers your heart,” he laughs.

Soon enough, he had named them all: Gloria, Nemo, Paula, Nils, Calimero, Frieda, and Maddin.

Over the two months it took for the goslings to grow feathers and learn to fly, Quetting figured he’d be teaching them plenty about how to live. Instead, he found it was the opposite.

“It takes about two months until their feathers are fully grown and they’re able to fly, and you don’t have to teach geese how to fly — they can fly. It’s the same as if you want to teach a fish how to swim. What I wanted to teach them was to follow me in the microlight.” – Michael Quetting

“You can learn from them to accept things as they are. If there’s nothing to eat, then there’s nothing to eat,” he says.

When he finally got a break from the geese, once they were able to survive on their own without his constant presence, Quetting found the lifestyle he’d left behind to be equally jarring.

“When I got back to civilization, then I always had the feeling that I’m surrounded by zombies,” he says, referring to people constantly on their phones.

Quetting soon realized how beneficial the break from technology and immersion into nature had been for him:

“If you are living your life mostly in the virtual world … and you focus on such things, and you open your view for such things, then it’s amazing what it does to your feelings. You feel so satisfied.”

Eventually, the birds left of their own accord, once they were able to fly and no longer needed his support. Quetting had hoped it would be a more sentimental goodbye:

“I thought I’d do it in a ceremony [where] I’d release them into the wild at the lake, but nature isn’t like that. Nature is cruel. They left me whilst flying, and I couldn’t do anything. They left me one by another. They look at you, and then they fly away, and they’re gone.”

Even though the experiment is over, he still remembers it well:

“What I gained from the whole experiment was the ability to go out and lean into a tree, and grab that old feeling back. After ten minutes, I can put myself into this old feeling and relax.


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Story Untold: “No Matter How Bad Things Get, There’s a Reason to Keep Going”

Story Untold with Greg Gilhooly

In ‘I Am Nobody,’ Greg Gilhooly details the years of abuse he suffered as a young hockey player, and his path to recovery. (Photo credit: Greg Smith)

What happens after the worst imaginable comes true? How do you pick up and carry on? In I Am Nobody, first-time author Greg Gilhooly attempts to answer that question.

*Note: Story contains sensitive content*

Gilhooly was a rising star — straight-A student and promising goaltender — when he met hockey coach Graham James in Winnipeg in 1979, an encounter that would forever alter the course of his life. What started with a post-game comment on the way off the ice led to years of abuse, and decades of personal torment.

To understand Gilhooly’s story, one must first get a sense of Winnipeg’s minor hockey scene in the 1970s and 1980s, and the man that largely defined it.

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James, says Gilhooly, “was seen as an esteemed god” in hockey circles: a man who controlled the fates of thousands of hockey-playing teens by virtue of his scouting connections in the Western Hockey League. James was a man who could launch careers, a man you wanted to impress.

He was also, unbeknownst to the community at the time, a sexual predator. After a tournament in Minneapolis, James and Gilhooly started to talk.

“He clearly knew a lot about me, and he said that when we got back to Winnipeg, we should get together,” says Gilhooly, now a lawyer in Oakville. “That’s how it started.”

“Once Graham had an opening to talk to me, that was all [he] needed to work his skills in terms of trying to get to me. I didn’t recognize it as grooming when it was happening, but when I look back on it as an adult, I can see that anything he ever told me—I have no idea whether it was true or not—but to the boy I was back then, it all made perfect sense.” – Greg Gilhooly

A coach of the hockey team several years ahead of Gilhooly, James promised a kind of personal mentorship to the young goalie, a path to bigger stages, as long as one caveat was followed.

“Right from the get-go, secrecy was of paramount importance to Graham,” says Gilhooly. “He made it clear, even from our first conversation in Minneapolis, that I was not to tell anyone that we had even spoken about this. That if my coaches caught wind that Graham was interfering at all, that would be no good for me.”

“I’m a 14-year-old kid, and it all makes perfect sense to me as to why I shouldn’t be telling anyone,” he adds.

When the two met, it started with conversations about hockey and personal training sessions. Over time, though, James began to work on breaking down Gilhooly’s barriers.

He positioned himself as a mentor: a caring mentor who was going to ask me things that nobody else would ask me. That’s exactly what he did, except he wasn’t going to be a mentor, he was going to be an abuser.”

“The way Graham worked on me for months was that he effectively became my father figure … He had me thinking that my father was not [looking out for] my best interests, that Graham was the only one who cared about me, [that] my coaches didn’t care about me, my friends didn’t care about me.” – Greg Gilhooly

The abuse, says Gilhooly, lasted for years: all the way up until he left Winnipeg for Princeton University.

“The mantra was always, ‘people like us have to stick together,’ and that if my secret ever got out, my hopes and dreams would be over. No hockey program in the U.S., college system, or whatever would want anything to do with me,” says Gilhooly.

“It happened again, and then it happened again, and it happened again. And I’m left thinking, ‘Why are you going back to him? You can’t stop this? You must want this to happen. You are everything he’s saying you are.‘ And so my sense of self fell away.”

In return, Gilhooly responded by taking it out on himself: a pattern of self-destruction that carried on, even after he left Winnipeg for Princeton, and later, the University of Toronto.

“That’s the problem with sexual abuse, is that it’s far more than the physical act of the abuse, because it leaves the mental carnage behind,” he says. “I hated myself, and so anything that I was doing that signalled to the outside world as being success, I felt instantly like a fraud, because I knew who I really was.”

“I was doing whatever I could to get the outside world to see me as a fraud, and it wasn’t working.” – Greg Gilhooly

In 1996, the past came rushing back to Gilhooly when a then 27-year-old Sheldon Kennedy announced that he had been sexually abused by James for years, dating back to the time that he was 14. James plead guilty and was sentenced to three-and-a-half years in prison.

“I wasn’t strong enough to come forward then, but even worse, I blamed myself for what had happened to Sheldon, because it had come after me,” says Gilhooly. “Someone’s life has been destroyed because of my inability to act. It’s no longer simply about me and the destruction of my own life; my inability to be me has now tangibly hurt another person.”

Not for the first time, he contemplated suicide.

“I got to the point where I sat on a bridge and looked the other side in the face,” he says. “I decided that I was either going to die or I was going to live, and I was going to give life a shot.”

By the time NHL All-Star Theoren Fleury released Playing With Fire in 2009, detailing his own experiences of abuse suffered under James, Gilhooly was ready to break his silence. He filed charges with the Winnipeg Police. He had already been going to therapy for the past year — a process he describes as a long road.

“Recovery was a process of letting a third party or third parties in to try to rightsize my basket of thoughts, for lack of a better image. I needed help working through why it happened to me.” – Greg Gilhooly

“It’s so humbling to need to reach out for help,” he says. “Coming out the other end, I can say that reaching out for help is the best thing I’ve ever done, and I encourage anyone who needs help to get it, but I completely understand how scary it is to ask for help, to admit that you need help.”

James plead guilty to the charges filed by Fleury and his cousin, Todd Holt, but in the deal he struck, Gilhooly’s charges were stayed.

“What I have learned is that to think that I’m ever going to get closure from a third party is an irrational quest, because what has to happen is to be able to live a life, and to live a life is to live a life without dark thoughts in your head, and to make peace with what’s happened,” says Gilhooly.

There are still bad days, nights when the memories return unbidden. Still, the worst is behind him, and better days ahead.

“If my story means anything,” says Gilhooly, “it’s that no matter how bad things get, there’s a reason to keep going, because you can come out the other side.”


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Home and the Art of Bicycle Assembly

Victoria, BC

The afternoon sun shone bright and hazy as the twin propellors hummed outside the airplane window. 4,000 feet below, the Pacific Ocean spread out in ripples of aqua-blue, catching the sun’s rays and lighting up in bursts of brilliant white-gold. Vancouver’s skyline turned to pins in a cushion as we rose to cruising altitude and flew over the Salish Sea, a patchwork of Gulf Islands ahead. I craned my neck around for one last look at the city and the North Shore Mountains, beyond whose peaks laid the rest of Canada and all that it stood for: Friendships. Family. Triumphs. Regrets. Love. Heartache. A lifetime. Home.

One by one, the plane passed over the varied isles and skerries that pockmark the Strait of Georgia and rise out of the ocean’s depths like whales breaching for air. I spotted the long, narrow neck of Galiano, then the forested hills of Salt Spring. I was bound for the coastal capital of Victoria, and all that it represented: Excitement. Opportunity. Fear. Uncertainty. Change. A new beginning.

We don’t get too many of those in life: new beginnings. There’s the occasional new job or new relationship — maybe a new addition to the family — but reinvention is messy, troublesome. It goes against the things we covet most: comfort and security. I once interviewed a writer who referred to travel as the practice of giving up one’s pillow, and in this case, I was giving up the whole bed. Leaving home meant putting myself out into the world, either to take it on the chin or let its wind guide my sails. It meant moving to a city, meeting new people, saying yes to new opportunities. It meant cobbling together the things that make up a life and starting something new.

***

The first new thing was a second piece of ID. The cashier waited expectantly at the BC Liquor checkout line as I stood there, six-pack on the counter, clueless as to why my driver’s license and healthy beard wasn’t proof enough of my age.

“We do things differently here,” she told me.

I learned quickly just how different things could be.

For one thing, stores are banned from giving out plastic bags in Victoria. My landlord made sure I left the house with an armful of reusable bags before my first trip to the grocery store. For another thing, Victorians are exceedingly polite to their bus drivers. (Unrelated, I know, but these are the things you notice when you’re new to a place.) Rarely a stop goes by that I don’t hear a loud “thank you” proclaimed by a passenger exiting the bus, and on a recent trip on the #7 line, I listened to the driver personally call out all the stops along the way, despite the automated recordings working just fine. I felt like a crude Ontarian by comparison, in my wilful ignorance of all things and all people. I shudder to think what other boorish behaviour I’ve brought with me.

***

The bigger new thing was the ocean — a constant presence which takes on greater significance when you live on an island. From my view at the top of Foul Bay Road, just a short walk away from home, I can see the ribbon of ocean blue peeking above the line of trees that stretches from Oak Bay to Gonzales, and on clear days — my favourite days — the Olympic Mountains loom above the water, their faded blue peaks like brushstrokes on the horizon.

On those days, the thought of home feels as distant as Washington’s shoreline, and instead, I’m wrapped up in the magic that comes with living in one of the most beautiful places in Canada. I’ll ride downhill until Crescent Road and Beach Drive, past McNeill Bay and the rocks at Kitty Islet, where driftwood piles on the pebbled beach and a trio of Muskoka chairs beg for passersby to sit and stay awhile. A short stretch away, I’ll reach the Victoria Golf Club, where on most days, I’ll cross paths with a few deer in search of their breakfast. Eventually, I’ll reach Willows Beach and Cattle Point before turning inland for home, putting my back to the ocean once again.

***

It’s been nearly three weeks since I landed on Vancouver Island, saddled with bags full of clothes and a bicycle in need of reassembly. I put the bike back together on the first day, rummaging for missing pieces and fiddling with hex wrenches until what I’d assembled looked, for all intents and purposes, like a bicycle ready for use. I even felt good about it until bringing it into a shop, where the mechanic immediately set about truing the wheels and lubing the brake cable, all the while rattling off other things in need of adjustment — things that come when you’ve pedalled a country’s length on the same two wheels.

The other reassembly, the one that comes with making up a life, takes longer, but I’ve found most of the pieces — and really, most are the same as the ones before. Family is family, wherever you go. Some friends, I’m closer to now than I was before. The other bits come with time.

After that, well, show me a person who doesn’t have at least a few screws loose.

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Story Untold: “What Is It About Modern Life That Makes Us Crave the Wellness Industry?”

Story Untold with Brigid Delaney

Photo of Brigid Delaney by James Brickwood.

These days, wellness is everywhere — an industry so large, it now outpaces the pharmaceutical industry. It’s captioned in Instagram posts, sold in smoothies and yoga classes, and nearly universally agreed-upon as something we could all use more of. But what is wellness, and how does one achieve it, anyway? Why do we want it so badly? Such is the premise of author and journalist Brigid Delaney’s Wellmania, a glimpse into the now multi-trillion-dollar industry.

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“I really noticed a rise in spa culture, retreats, wellness packages,” says Delaney, a senior writer for Guardian Australia, “and I wanted to know what was driving that industry.”

“There’s this guilty feeling, and this feeling of, ‘I need to have more control over how I live,’” she adds. “And so, the wellness industry — whether it’s a 30-day detox, or meal-replacement shakes, or gym memberships — gives us that sense of control back.”

In Wellmania, Delaney’s third book, she sets out to explore the most extreme and noteworthy trends of the wellness industry, trying them out and teasing apart the tried-and-true from the pseudo-science.

“One of the challenges with the wellness industry is to sort out what’s real — what’s actually helpful — and what’s complete B.S.,” says the Melbourne-born author. “What was really interesting [in] doing this book was the huge gap […] between the science and what wellness advocates actually say.”

“One of the challenges with the wellness industry is to sort out what’s real — what’s actually helpful — and what’s complete B.S.” – Brigid Delaney

One of the first things Delaney tries is a 101-day detox — the same that Australian prime minister Malcolm Turnbull credits with losing weight — in which the first two weeks, dieters are allowed only a mixture of herbs.

“The sales pitch says, ‘you’ll be treated with Chinese herbs that will keep you feeling full and give you all the energy and nutrients that you need.’ And then you actually experience the detox, and it’s horrendous,” she says. “I could barely get out of bed.”

Later, she visits a wellness retreat that claims to condense years of therapy work into one week.

“They’re quite confronting,” says Delaney. “In front of the group, you had to tell them what your biggest shame was. There was primal scream therapy. There was hitting things with rubber bats, lots of yelling… it was the most intense week of my life.”

Some claims are more harmful. She points to Australia’s Belle Gibson, a blogger who falsely claimed to have cured her brain cancer through eating more healthily. She signed a book deal and released an app, The Whole Pantry, only to admit in 2015 that she had never had cancer in the first place.

“That’s where the wellness industry has its darkside. You’ve got people who are desperate for some sort of answer, or cure, or a remedy that doesn’t involve chemotherapy or drugs, then you have someone come along and exploit that need.”

As for what helps? Delaney has an idea or two.

“If I could go back to 2007 and make sure the iPhone never got invented, it would be a different world.” – Brigid Delaney

“It’s very boring, but the kind of well and well-adjusted people are the people that just do kind of what our grandparents did a few generations ago: get a decent amount of sleep, spend time with your family and friends, spend time outside… give up social media,” she says. “If I could go back to 2007 and make sure the iPhone never got invented, it would be a different world.”

Along with that, she suggests, perhaps it’s time for a little less focus on the self — and in turn, greater focus on the whole.

“We have to return to a more communal way of living our lives,” says Delaney, “and nothing feels as good as helping other people.


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Story Untold: “There Are No Bad Places If the Reason You Are Travelling Is to Meet People”

Story Untold with Stephan Orth

Photo credit: Mina Esfandiari (http://www.minaesfandiari.com/)

Stephan Orth has a rule when travelling: say yes to any and all opportunities. So it is that when the award-winning travel writer continued to hear stories from fellow travellers about Iran, he decided it was time to see the country for himself.

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“Iran was interesting, because everyone who had been there said something about some incredible, surprising experiences with the hospitality [of Iranians],” says Orth. “They told of a country that’s completely different from what you’d expect from the media stories.”

By then, working as an online travel editor for Germany’s Der Spiegel, Orth had already devoted years to travelling the world, and had written the bestseller Opas Eisberg about an expedition to Greenland in his grandfather’s footsteps. Looking for stories that would provide a glimpse into a country often shrouded in mystery, Orth decided to spend his time couchsurfing — staying with locals that offer to host visiting travellers for free.

“If you’re really interested, and if you ask lots of questions, I think you can learn much more than expected about a place, even if you’re not fluent in the language.” – Stephan Orth

“I had a very interesting talk with a famous Russian traveller once, who said that you should think about how much of your travels you spend with people who are paid to be friendly to you — who are working in the tourism industry in some way, and they’re just paid to do what they do for you. If you think about that, and try to reduce this number, it’s probably a pretty good idea to get a more authentic trip,” he says.

Over the course of two months — twice, renewing his initial three-week visa — Orth covered nearly 8,500 kilometres, heading from busy Tehran in the country’s north, to the laid-back island of Kish in the Persian Gulf, to the pilgrimage city of Mashhad near the Turkmenistan border. In total, he stayed with 22 hosts across the country, always following his golden rule of saying ‘yes.’ One time, he was invited to stay with a wealthy prince who bottled his own wine; another time, he was invited to a meeting of sadomasochists.

“I got into a lot of situations where I was surprised what kind of things happened secretly, as soon as nobody is watching,” says Orth. “In public, it’s a kind of masquerade: you follow the rules of the Islamic Republic. But as soon as the door is closed […] everything you can imagine that young people do in Western countries, it also happens in Iran.”

“I got into a lot of situations where I was surprised what kind of things happened secretly, as soon as nobody is watching. Everything you can imagine that young people do in Western countries, it also happens in Iran.” – Stephan Orth

During his two months in the country, Orth received more than his fair share of Iranian hospitality, and also learned the vital art of declining such grand gestures of generosity — once, having to rebuff an offer from a host to take home his $10,000 carpet.

“I told him how much I liked this carpet, and just after that, he said, ‘Oh, that’s great! I’m so happy that I will give it to you as a present.’ If I had started rolling this carpet up and walking out of the house with it, I think it would have very quickly changed my friendship with this guy,” he laughs.

“[One host] took me to a wedding the second day I was there, but also kind of treated me like a social experiment the whole time,” adds Orth. “He was sending me [out to] talk to people […] He would stand behind and watch the situation, and just see how people react to me, to this weird foreigner.”

Along the way, says Orth, he fell in love with a country many often neglect:

“Of course, there are some issues about religious leaders, and the government, and freedom of the people. It’s not an easy place to travel to. But then, on the human level, if you just meet the everyday people, if you take part in everyday life, it’s something so different.”


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Story Untold: “I’m Always Looking for Hope”

Story Untold with Shad

On a damp Wednesday morning in Toronto, Shad is standing barefoot in the driveway of his stacked townhouse complex, decked out in shorts and his ubiquitous Manifesto hoodie. He is doing so because an interviewer is lost, having already knocked on the wrong door once. Upon meeting, he smiles and apologizes that first, he need to check on a friend’s house around the corner — then looks down at his feet and explains, “I don’t really wear shoes in the summer.”

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Back inside, he introduces a visitor to his wife and takes a seat at a stool in the kitchen, offering a cup of tea. The furnishings are sparse — not out of some determined effort towards minimalism, but from an impending move to another place nearby. A book about prenatal yoga sits on the island counter. The two are expecting their first child later in the year.

Welcome to the life of one of Canada’s most accomplished hip-hop artists, one of only two — the other one being industry favourite Jazz Cartier — to beat out Drake for a Rap Recording Juno. It all seems so normal, especially considering Shad — born Shadrach Kabango — is enjoying something of a career year at the moment; in 2017, his latest project, the documentary series Hip-Hop Evolution, won both an International Emmy and a Peabody Award. Soon, the London, Ontario-raised emcee will make his musical return with A Short Story About a War, a full-length project due out October 26th.

“It’s quite a thing to think about, you know? Because when I made my first album, I really didn’t know if I would make any more,” he says. “I didn’t anticipate five years, ten years, let alone maybe even a second album.”

“Now, when I look back, it’s kind of crazy to me. I’ve just been able to do a lot of things that I feel grateful for every morning when I wake up. I got to share so much of my story and say so many things, and I did not anticipate any of it.” – Shad

When Shad made his debut in 2005 with When This Is Over, he was in his early twenties and wrapping up a business degree at Wilfrid Laurier University. He recorded the album with the winnings from a contest hosted by 91.5 The Beat, a local radio station based in Kitchener-Waterloo.

“I was wrestling with what a lot of kids wrestle with in school, which was ‘what am I going to do next?’ And ‘what do I actually have the most to contribute to?’ And a part of me suspected that that was music or something creative, but of course, you never know,” says Shad.

He kept the news of the contest and progress on the album mostly to himself, afraid of falling short of others’ expectations. If Shad was modest about his talents, however, his friend and classmate (now longtime manager and business partner) Gaurav Sawhney saw potential.

“As he tells it, one day in fourth year, someone was like, ‘Hey, have you heard Shad’s album?’ And he was like, ‘What are you talking about?’” Shad laughs. “He got it, and we kind of started working together and started learning it all together.”

“I was wrestling with what a lot of kids wrestle with in school, which was ‘what am I going to do next?’ And ‘what do I actually have the most to contribute to?’ And a part of me suspected that that was music or something creative, but of course, you never know.” – Shad

With the help of Shad’s older sister, they began booking shows throughout Southern Ontario, then across Canada — at times, performing for crowds of two or three; other times, opening for the likes of Sadat X and Common in front of massive crowds.

“If we booked a little mini tour, like five shows, generally one would be good,” Shad laughs. “Two out of five would be terrible, and then the other two were somewhere in the middle.”

By 2007, the crowds had grown. Shad’s sophomore effort, The Old Prince, was shortlisted for a Polaris Prize and earned him a Juno nomination for Rap Recording of the Year — an award he would win three years later for his follow-up TSOL, beating a debutant Drake who was hosting the award ceremony and widely expected to claim the prize.

“That’s a hilarious moment to think back on,” says Shad. “I’m walking out of that gala with G (Gaurav Sawhney), and as soon as we get out of the gala, we burst out laughing — just rolling on the floor, laughing.”

“If we booked a little mini tour, like five shows, generally one would be good. Two out of five would be terrible, and then the other two were somewhere in the middle.” – Shad

At last, Shad had arrived. Tour dates in the United States and Europe would follow, and by 2013 — the same year as his Flying Colours release — CBC Music had listed Shad as the second-greatest Canadian rapper ever, behind only Maestro Fresh Wes. He might not have found the same audience as Drake (and really, who has?) but he was every bit the Canadian favourite: praised for his wit and beloved for his personality.

At the same time, Kabango was ready for something new.

“There was this sense of, like, ‘Okay, cool. What am I going to explore next?’ Music is here, and I’m going to keep doing that, but I was kind of looking around a little bit, too,” he says.

His first public opportunity would come with CBC Radio’s popular ‘q’ program in 2015, following previous host Jian Ghomeshi’s ouster in the midst of a sexual assault scandal. Shad took the reins in the hottest of hot seats, looking to win over an audience that — in some parts — had still remained loyal to his predecessor.

“I remember, I had my first day [at CBC’s ‘q’], and it felt like a living funeral — not in a sad way, [but] there was so much tribute being paid, and I’m like, ‘this is crazy.’ Because to my mind, I was just starting a job, you know?” – Shad

“I didn’t expect [getting the role] to be as big of a thing as it was,” he says. “I remember, I had my first day, and it felt like a living funeral — not in a sad way, [but] there was so much tribute being paid, and I’m like, ‘this is crazy.’ Because to my mind, I was just starting a job, you know?”

The union was brief; by 2016, Shad was replaced by CBC Radio 2 host Tom Power. Still, he had found a new outlet and audience beyond music — something that would resurface with his next project, the documentary series Hip-Hop Evolution. A group of Canadian filmmakers approached Shad about serving as the host, and he eagerly agreed.

“I love getting this view of hip-hop — really starting to understand how the music travelled from person to person and place to place,” he says. “I don’t think there’s a better film document about the origins of hip-hop that exists.”

“I love getting this view of hip-hop — really starting to understand how the music travelled from person to person and place to place. Like, I’m at 1520 Sedgwick with Kool Herc. This is wild.” – Shad

The series was a hit with critics and fans alike, featuring interviews with such seminal figures as Grandmaster Flash, Russell Simmons, and N.W.A. In addition to an International Emmy and Peabody Award, it earned two Canadian Screen Awards and was added to Netflix’s international roster. Already, it has been renewed for a second season, although Shad remains mum on which artists will be involved.

These days, the Toronto-based songwriter is gearing up for his latest creative endeavour, the full-length A Short Story About a War. Featuring appearances from familiar collaborators such as Eternia, Ian Kamau, Ric Notes, and DJ T.Lo, the album explores the concept of fear, among other things.

“The impostor syndrome never goes away,” he says. “The work is, I need to find something pure to give people, and I can’t do that if I’m distracted by myself.”

Along with fear, there’s hope. Gratitude, too.

“Now, when I look back, it’s kind of crazy to me,” says Shad. “I’ve just been able to do a lot of things that I feel grateful for every morning when I wake up. I got to share so much of my story and say so many things, and I did not anticipate any of it.”


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