Nearly 21 years ago Todd Lamirande was assigned his first television story at APTN.
And tonight he signed off for the last time as host of Nation to Nation.
He was 56.
I can hear him saying now as he reads this “now hold on I am not dead, yet.”
And thank goodness for that.
Lamirande has decided to end his broadcasting career to be a manager – executive producer of the eastern region at APTN.
It’s time to pass the microphone to others that he will now shape and mentor.
May the creator help them all.
But this is supposed to be a tribute, not an obituary, of a man, some may not say legend, who when he walked into communities was seen as a rock star.
And that’s no joke.
“In 2010, a crew went up to cover the G7 finance minister’s meeting in Iqaluit. Todd was the host. One night we all went out to dinner. Todd didn’t eat with us though,” recalled Mark Blackburn, now a web producer at APTN in Ottawa.
“He was being hauled from table to table by patrons insisting he sit with them for a few minutes to talk. He was a rock star.”
Director John Cooke saw more of the same.
“When out in the communities with Todd, it was most interesting to see people’s reaction. You could see the moment they say to themselves, ‘Holy smokes that’s Todd Lamirande!’” said Cooke, who worked with Lamirande on N2N the last several years.
News Director Cheryl McKenzie has worked at APTN just about as long as Lamirande and remembered when he worked out of Vancouver.
“My most memorable impressions of Todd back in those days was the road trip he took from Vancouver to Haida Gwaii in the summer of 2003. He turned it into a five-part series for our newscast,” McKenzie recalled.
Lamirande took his job serious and did some darn good stories, but there was always something else about him.
“His quirky sense of humour always shines through and to me, that’s part of what makes him a good story teller. He’s also a master at weaving his narrative voice in and out of the real life moments caught on camera as he talks with the people in his stories, often with a mic in hand,” said McKenzie.
“While I can‘t recall exactly what he reported about the Wet’suwet’en in those days, I remember it was about fishing and him making some joke about his Metis rights being violated after finding a sign, ‘no jigging’ allowed. Of course it referred to fishing but Todd turned it into a funny moment with a sound-up of fiddling music as the camera tilted down showing him do a little jig, which was really just his feet kicking, but it did the job and made us laugh.”
She said he would always move on and make some point which would be much more serious, giving the viewer a deeper understanding of the history, the people and the context.
“I can always count on Todd to get to the heart of a story and make lasting connections,” said McKenzie.
Lamirande reported stories, but soon was hosting the newscast before working with APTN Investigates and later hosting N2N.
“Being the audio operator during the years Todd hosted the news, he had a signature of ending his interviews with guests by saying “Well were all outta time…” said Vincent Proteau, who now works as a multi-media archivist at APTN.
Of course, it’s a line he hasn’t lost.
I joined N2N as his producer in 2018 and it’s a line I’ve heard him say over and over.
But what I remember most of his time as host, besides the laughs we shared, was how fair he was to everyone he interviewed.
It’s a trait often lost in today’s world, but it can be traced back to his first story.
It was of two brothers that waved at people driving by along the highway through Brokenhead First Nation in Manitoba.
They became quite the sensation.
“It was a wholesome story,” recalled Lamirande.
Wholesome also describes his career.
But, as he’s also now my boss, he signs off as the greatest host ever at APTN.
Watch his last show below where he interviews Cindy Blackstock and Elizabeth May, two of his favourite guests over the years.