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Office of Aboriginal Initiatives
Acclaimed author Richard Wagamese speaks at Laurier
Communications, Public Affairs & Marketing
Richard Wagamese, an esteemed public speaker and one of Canada’s foremost Aboriginal authors and storytellers, spoke at Laurier’s Waterloo campus Sept. 18 for the university’s Common Reading Program.
Laurier’s Common Reading Program invites all students entering the Faculty of Arts to share a reading experience. For the program’s inaugural year, students received a copy of Wagamese’s novel Indian Horse in the summer, and were invited to participate in orientation events focused on the book.
For the event on Sept. 18, Wagamese spoke to students, staff and faculty about topics in Indian Horse, how and why he writes, and how his personal history inspired events in Indian Horse.
Wagamese is an Ojibway from the Wabaseemoong First Nation in northwestern Ontario. Echoing events in the book, Wagamese lived on the land with his family, who had suffered abuse in residential schools. Wagamese and his siblings found themselves abandoned in the bush in the dead of winter, and had to make a harrowing journey to the railhead in Minaki, where they were found and placed in foster care. With an adopted family in suburban Toronto, Wagamese experienced “serious, chronic abuse for many years.”
“In Indian Horse, Saul watching his traditions crumble in front of him in residential school is analogous to the dissipation of our culture today,” said Wagamese. “I hope the book serves as a reminder that we still have to stay connected to what makes us who we are.”
The final event for Laurier’s Common Reading Program is a faculty and staff panel discussing Indian Horse, which takes place Sept. 23 at 5 p.m. in DAWB 2-101 on Laurier’s Waterloo campus. Laurier faculty and staff experts will talk about Indian Horse from their own academic perspectives:
- Jenny Kerber, English & Film Studies
- Spy Dénommé-Welch, Education
- Kandice Baptiste, Aboriginal Student Recruitment
- Peter Baxter, Athletics & Recreation
Everyone is welcome to attend.