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Sarika Cullis-Suzuki: The Nature of Things

Obviously, your father is a tough act to follow, but in another way, does the fact that he is such an icon free you up to do your own thing? Because there’s really no imitating David Suzuki . . .

I’m not taking it lightly, that’s for sure. It still blows my mind that The Nature of Things has been on-air for 60 years. No pressure there or anything! . . . Yeah, I don’t think we can replace an icon. Period. And dad really is an icon. There is no replicating what he does. Way back when I was first co-hosting a show with him, we did a series together called The Suzuki Diaries. It was really my first indoctrination into this role. We were supposed to interview a scientist and right before the interview, I was like, “Dad, can you give me some advice?” He thought and then he said, “Just be yourself and listen.” At the time, I was like, “What? That’s all you’re going to tell me? Give me some practical pointers!” But over time, I really thought about those two pieces of advice, and they speak to what you mentioned before: the freedom. He was giving me permission to be myself. I think that’s really beautiful advice for anybody.

The Nature of Things on CBC. Pictured: Sarika Cullis-Suzuki
Courtesy of CBC

What is the process like for you and Anthony of familiarizing yourselves with this broad range of topics?

[A documentarian] will come up with an idea, pitch it to The Nature of Things, and then our boss will determine if it’s something that they want to do. At that point, they will connect the producers with Anthony or myself. Then we’ll have a conversation, and it’ll be like, “OK, what specifically are you interested in? Is there something in your personal life or in your past that you’ve been connected to with the subject in some way?” That’s an element we’re trying to bring to this next iteration of The Nature of Things, which is a little bit more personal, a little bit more host-driven. And the idea is that if we find a natural, organic spark from the host and the subject, that’ll bring the viewer along on this journey . . . Our involvement can be anywhere from researchers to just showing up for narration. It really does depend, but I think because Anthony and I are so interested in most of the topics, we try to do our research, to be as immersed as possible.

The Nature of Things on CBC. Pictured: Sarika Cullis-Suzuki with co-host Anthony Morgan.
Courtesy of CBC

How valuable is a program like this in effecting change in the world, even just by communicating real information, without a specific slant or agenda?

I think that word is very important: information. Real information. And that sounds like, “Oh, obvious!” But it’s not today. A lot of our information comes from very superficial sources, and a lot of it isn’t really data-driven or evidence-based . . . Now, we get our information and we don’t know where it’s necessarily coming from. We don’t know how it’s being manipulated; of course, Facebook and all these Goliaths, they have this unbelievable power. They’re collecting data about us every single day. So our information is being determined not by what we need to learn about, but by other people’s intent. And that’s kind of terrifying.

The thing that I think is so valuable about The Nature of Things and the reason it’s existed for over 60 years is because it has been able to present evidence-based information to the public that doesn’t have a vested interest, right? This is for the CBC. It’s for the people. When I think about information that we need to hear today, it’s absolutely evidence-based. The Nature of Things does something very important. We talk about science, we talk about nature, but we also talk about our responsibilities as humans living in a changing world. I think that the ability to go into a topic for an hour on science is really important — especially today, in a highly digitized world, where our media is really small and we’re getting fragmented clips that are often superficial.

The Nature of Things airs Thursday, March 14 on CBC


The daughter of Canadian icon David Suzuki very much followed in dad’s footsteps as a scientist (she has a PhD in marine biology), an environmentalist and, yes, a TV host — having presented documentaries for Knowledge Network, PBS and CBC, among other platforms.


When David Suzuki decided to retire after The Nature of Things’ 62nd season, it was clear who should take the reins of TV’s longest-running science program. Season 63 has found Sarika teaming with co-host Anthony Morgan to carry on David’s legacy, informing and inspiring Canadians. Some episodes see the two emcees presenting together, but this week Sarika takes centre stage for a doc called Little Sapiens, about a generation of prehistoric kids that “helped shape humans into who they are today.”

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