rabbitskinEeyou Istchee has lost one of its most prominent broadcasters. Roderick Rabbitskin passed away from heart failure on December 1 in Mistissini.

For years Rabbitskin was a constant presence in many people’s lives as the sensitive man discussing the issues of the day as a radio host on CBC North.

Rabbitskin worked for the public broadcaster for 19 years, where he developed a close friendship with CBC colleague Dimitri Katadotis.

Reached by phone, Katadotis remembered Rabbitskin’s incredible sense of humour and passion for Cree language and culture. He also said Rabbitskin was a great friend.

“You could tell him anything and he didn’t judge you,” said Katadotis. “It was a profound thing with him.” 

Integrity is often developed through difficult and painful experiences during one’s youth. And Rabbitskin wasn’t a stranger to either, having experienced sexual abuse at the hands of a family friend and bullying by his peers for being gay.

Yet rather than allow the pain to fester, he chose to speak about it publicly. Doing so was part of his healing journey. And he hoped that some of his listeners might connect with his story, and that it might help them on theirs as well. 

In a 2010 profile in the Nation, Rabbitskin went public with his sexuality. It was a difficult decision.

“There were times in high school when I didn’t go to public places or events because I knew what was going to happen if I went,” Rabbitskin told the Nation. “I didn’t associate with people. I just stayed away. A lot of times I was alone. The only people I could talk to were my parents and my brothers and sisters.”

After CBC North shared news of his death on Facebook, hundreds of people expressed their condolences.

“I will miss hearing you on the radio Rod!” said one. “You will be missed by many. Fly high my beautiful friend.”