Passion projects

Lucky Budd
Robert “Lucky” Budd has worked with artist Roy Henry Vickers on many projects.

Prolific author, oral historian, Deadhead and goalie Robert “Lucky” Budd spends his days doing what he loves.

Robert “Lucky” Budd, BA ’00, MA ’05, is many things: a best-selling author, frequent collaborator with acclaimed Indigenous artist Roy Henry Vickers, an oral historian, archivist, former touring musician and a father of two. He’s also a UVic Distinguished Alumni Award recipient, a self-taught astrophotographer, ice-hockey goalie and a tie-dyed-in-the-wool “Deadhead” who saw the Grateful Dead in concert 85 times by the time he was 19. Is he—to quote an oft-memed beer commercial of old—the Most Interesting Man in the World? Perhaps. But the way Budd sees it, he’s just lucky. It’s right there in his nickname, given to him by his brother when he was born the youngest of four siblings.

“I'm not exactly the sort of person who came in with an A-plus average,” says Budd, who likes to joke he was likely the last student UVic accepted in 1995. He was given the nod on Aug. 29 after calling admissions every day for a month, moved out from Toronto on Aug. 30 and started classes on Sept. 3. “My career path and everything I've done has been me trusting in my vision, following my own muse, and I'm just so very lucky that I was able to find a way to make that work.”

However, Budd’s success can’t be chalked up to good fortune alone. He is a doer, fueled by equal parts inspiration and determination. He describes himself as having “an archivist’s brain” and remembers being enthralled by the power of sound and storytelling since he was old enough to hold an LP and push record on a tape machine. So it makes sense that after graduating in 2000 with a double minor in Philosophy and Greek and Roman Studies he earned a Master’s degree focusing on oral history. Along the way he took a gig working with the CBC and the Royal British Columbia Museum digitizing CBC Radio journalist Imbert Orchard’s collection of 998 interviews with First Nations and first-generation British Columbians, recorded from 1959 to 1966. Then there are the books, more than a dozen of them and counting.

His latest, A is For Anemone, is his 11th collaboration with Vickers, and introduces the alphabet to toddlers and young readers using iconic imagery of the West Coast.

“Roy's sister Patricia has noticed that we have this incredible father-son relationship, but it's not always clear who the father is. It keeps switching back,” says the soon-to-be 45-year-old about his septuagenarian collaborator who he first met a decade ago. Vickers had been searching for some of the same stories and oral histories Budd had digitized. They met in Tofino to talk shop and immediately hit it off.

“He and I often talk about the Latin phrase inspiritus, which is the root of the word inspiration,” Budd says. “It’s related to the word respiration—it literally means the breath of the Creator, coming through you, inspiring you... And when you work from a place of inspiration, what you are able to create is so much bigger than you could do on your own. That's what he and I bring to each other.”

Hot on the heels of A is for Anemone, Budd also found the time and energy for what he describes as one of his biggest projects to date, a motivational picture book with Canadian Olympic gold medal-winning sprinter Andre De Grasse and illustrator Joseph Osei Bonsu. Hitting shelves last month to coincide with the Tokyo Olympics, Race With Me is billed as “a celebration of sport and Andre De Grasse's positive, winning attitude.”


“Like all the other projects [I do], we’re able to tap into the joy,” Budd says. “And that's really what it's about... There's so much goodness and so much joy in that book.”

Although the past year has been difficult on many fronts, Budd says if anything the pandemic has reinforced the importance of storytelling as a vehicle for human connection. It’s also given him the time and space to do what he’s always done, follow his numerous passions and see where they take him.

—Michael Kissinger, BEd ’94