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Subject: Richard Wagamese, Award-winning Ojibway author and journalist

Dead at 61
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Date Posted: Saturday, March 11, 11:37:00am

Award-winning author and journalist Richard Wagamese, an Ojibway from the
Wabaseemoong First Nation in northwestern Ontario whose work was deeply
influenced by his experiences in Canada's residential school system, has
died. Wagamese, 61, called himself a second-generation survivor of the
government-sponsored schools, attended by his parents and extended family
members. In many of his 13 titles from major Canadian publishers, he drew
from his own struggle with family dysfunction that he attributed to the
isolating church-run schools. One of his many novels, “Indian Horse”, was a
finalist in CBC's Canada Reads in 2013, bringing it to wider attention. It
also was shortlisted for the International Dublin Literary Award. It tells
the story of the intergenerational trauma that played out in the lives of
those who attended residential schools in the 1960s and '70s. It's the story
of Saul Indian Horse, a boy who finds release through his passion for
hockey.Richard Wagamese's novel Indian Horse was a finalist in CBC's Canada
Reads 2013. The author was born in 1955 near Kenora, Ont., and lived in
Kamloops, B.C. Two years after its release, in 2014, he spoke to Carol Off,
host of CBC Radio's As It Happens, about the psychological impact of being
separated from family and how the trauma is passed on to the next
generation. "The nature of their experience, their common experience in
residential schools, really robbed them of their tribal and cultural ability
to be nurturing and to be loving parents," Wagamese said. "They had suffered
the scrapes and woundings of their souls and their spirits that was not
readily healable. And when we were born as children, we were subjected to
the neglect and the pain that that generation had suffered, so
intergenerationally, residential schools infiltrated my generation in my
family, and that's true across the country." The film “Indian Horse”,
adapted from the book, is currently in production, directed by Dennis Foon.
Wagamese's 2014 novel “Medicine Walk” also addresses efforts to preserve
culture and heal a divided family — as a teenage son and dying father who
barely know each other embark on a journey through the backcountry of the
B.C. Interior so that the father can be buried according to Ojibway custom.


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