Sunday, February 27, 2022

Stuck at home during this world pandemic? Discover Richard Wagamese.

 Richard Wagamese - not a great Ojibway author...rather, a great author

Is there a better time than now, when you are being forced to stay home, to experience the gift of one of Canada's greatest authors, Richard Wagamese. 

And by reading Richard's work, you will become a part of the healing necessary as directed by the recommendations of the TRC. 

Richard's writings are a safe and good starting point for anyone who is wanting to learn about the the 60's scoop, residential schools, Ojibway (Indigenous) values and beliefs...

Knowing both the man and the writer, I will recommend two books, his first and my favourite. 

Keeper'n Me - his first novel and wow, what a start!

Can you imagine growing up not only not knowing your birth parents, but not knowing your community - 

Richard takes us back to the beginning...the challenges/battles he faced growing up in a world of confusion and unanswered questions. 

This is Richard's story and it is the story of so many who were taken from their homes and placed in situations that our colonial government assessed as being in their best interest. You need not go back to Canada's first Prime Minister who spoke of taking the Indian out of the Indian. We have evolved but maintain so very much of that hateful and hurtful energy. 

Keeper'n Me opened my eyes to so much. Try it if you haven't already. 

Ragged Company - my favourite of his many 

Over the years, Richard and I spoke at a few conferences together. At one such conference in Edmonton, Aaron Paquette (friend/artist/author/now city counsellor) handed me a signed copy of Ragged Company to give away. I didn't. I kept it and had Richard sign it to my wife. It was her favourite. I gave out one of  my own books that was greatly appreciated. My late Mother used to say, "what you don't know won't hurt you". I applied it to this situation. I felt guilty and still do. 

In an attempt to get in out of the cold, four street people pool what little money they have and begin to frequent local theaters for matinee movies. In one of the theaters, they come across a finely dressed gentleman who becomes key to the plot of Richard's story. 

One day, one of the four finds a pack of smokes that not only has half the cigarettes left but includes three twenty dollar bills - sixty dollars and a lottery ticket. What they did with the cash, you can likely demise. However - the  ticket? How does a  person cash in a  lottery ticket if they have no proof of existence? No licence. No social insurance card. No credit card.  Nothing! What then? 

Back to the well dressed guy from the theater. 

And then? 

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