Duane was born (1963) in the Nuu-chahnulth First Nations territory, located on the west coast of Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada. He spent his early childhood in Port Alberni, Canada, and moved to Vancouver at the age of 14, with his older sister following his parents’ separation.
Howard had already been using drugs and alcohol for four years. As a child living on the streets from the age of 14 to 18, Howard
considered taking his own life many times. Then at 23 after 13 years of addiction, Howard just up and quit. “I wanted to be somebody,” he said.
Duane was the SAY Magazine Spokesperson for British Columbia and this is the article SAY published about Duane in the 2004 Fall issue.
Did you ever stop to think how we make thorough life? Duane Howard is from the Nuu Chah Nulth Nation. And although his past life was not very pleasant, one like many other people all over, he managed to get a hold of life, and make positive choices.
Duane grew up seeing alcohol and drug abuse so he began abusing these substances at a very young age. He also experienced street life by selling drugs. With that all behind him, today he looks at life with more freedom and being positive. Duane has been sober for eighteen years now.
When Duane started his sobriety he began pow wow singing and grass dancing. During this time he traveled to many places in Canada and the United States and as far away as France, Switzerland, Geneva and Belgium dancing and singing.
In his third year of sobriety Duane went to the Native Education Centre to finish his Grade Twelve. He then attended and completed a Drug and Alcohol Counsellor program. Upon completion he was employed as a youth worker in Vancouver at various group homes and with the Vancouver School Board as a family support worker. He was also a foster parent for youth for a couple of
About ten years ago Duane found his passion —the film industry. At first he did background work and then became a special skills extra, which involves riding horses, precision driving and other skilled work. About five years ago Duane received his first stunt credit on the feature film Scarlet Letter. He has done stunts for local TV shows such as: Harsh Realm, Unprofessionals and Peace Maker. Today Duane’s focus is more on being a stunt man, although in the past couple years he has performed in eight theatrical productions.
Duane’s advice to Aboriginal youth is this,
“REACH FOR YOUR GOALS AND DREAMS, DON’T BE AFRAID OF WHAT LIFE HAS TO OFFER YOU. PEOPLE COME AND GO IN
YOUR LIFE, DON’T LET IT STOP YOU FROM GOING WHERE YOU WANT TO GO. THERE ARE A LOT OF PEOPLE WHO CAN AND WILL
HELP YOU—YOU NEED TO JUST ASK THEM. OUR ELDERS AND SPIRITUAL LEADERS AND GUIDES ARE THERE TO HELP YOU. IT
WAS WITH THE HELP OF PEOPLE LIKE THEM THAT I WAS ABLE TO MAKE IT THROUGH LIFE. BELIEVE IN YOURSELF, TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF; SPIRITUALLY, PHYSICALLY, MENTALLY AND EMOTIONALLY. SUPPORT AND HELP ONE ANOTHER. THIS WAY YOU WILL GET SOMEWHERE IN LIFE. I WOULD LIKE TO THANK MY FAMILY AND FRIENDS FOR THEIR SUPPORT AND LOVE THEY HAVE GIVEN ME THROUGHOUT THE YEARS. I HAD TO START MAKING THE RIGHT CHOICES IN MY LIFE.”
Duane has worked as a stuntman and performed his own stunts for his role in The Revenant. In media interviews, He said his own experience with loss and hardship informed his portrayal of Elk Dog, a father whose daughter is kidnapped by fur trappers.
When Leonardo DiCaprio dedicated his Golden Globe Award for The Revenant to indigenous communities around the world, Duane said he was moved by the speech, and hopes to see more accurate portrayals of Indigenous culture come out of Hollywood.