Turtle Island – Indians Do Cry

Turtle Island


George Kenny, Mike Auksi


Joshua Mangeshig Pawis-Steckley


Research Cluster Lead:
Duncan McCue
Community Liaison:
Indian Residential School History and Dialogue Centre (UBC)


Storyteller Duncan McCue began his research in the winter of 2023. Following several meetings over Zoom in spring of 2023, George Kenny and Mike Auksi confirmed their willingness to participate in the project to share their Survivance stories.

Duncan engaged in further research over the summer of 2023, particularly seeking an Indigenous graphic artist with whom to partner. In the fall of 2023, the graphic artist Mangeshig confirmed his willingness to join the project. Around this time, Duncan conducted his first in-person interviews with Mike Auksi, travelling to Sioux Lookout, Ontario to do a site visit and research. Unfortunately, a planned interview session with George Kenny had to be postponed due to George’s health.

During the winter of 2024, Duncan hired research assistants and began shaping the story narrative. A research trip is planned for the spring of 2024, during which Mike, Mangeshig, and Duncan will travel to Thunder Bay to meet and interview George. Duncan will work on drafting the story in the summer of 2024.

Image 1. Mike Auksi’s elite amateur hockey career culminated in playing for the Estonian national team in the Olympic qualifiers in 2015 and 2016. (Photo supplied by Mike Auksi)

Image 2. Father and son celebrate Mike’s role winning the championship at the Northern Bands tournament in early 2000s. (Photo supplied by Mike Auksi)

Image 3. Mike Auksi and Duncan McCue travelled to Sioux Lookout in fall of 2023, where they conducted research that included an evening of hockey with Sioux Lookout Aces. (Photo credit Duncan McCue)

Meeting Mike and George

The working title of our project is “Indians Do Cry: A Hockey Survivance Story.”

Our story focuses on an Anishinaabe father and son, George Kenny and Mike Auksi.

George, the father, is Anishinaabe from northern Ontario. He was taken from his family at age 6, to attend a residential school near Sioux Lookout. Enduring eight years at residential school, hockey was the one thing he lived for. George later became a successful author and journalist, but the trauma he experienced at residential school marred his personal life.

George’s son Mike grew up with his non-native mother in the city of Toronto. Mike was greatly impacted by intergenerational trauma, but overcame hardships to become an elite amateur hockey player, competing on the world stage. Mike is now completing a PhD about the role of sports and hockey at Indian residential schools in Canada.

The trials and tribulations of father and son tell an important story about the genocidal design and intergenerational impacts of the schools. But we’re confident that framing the story around sports will also help the book reach broad audiences in a hockey-obsessed country such as Canada.


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