“Some stories come in your blood. They move beyond the telling or the showing and come to rest inside you. Invade you. Inhabit you. Like there was a secret crevice in your being that it took the tale to fill.” (Ragged People, Richard Wagamese)
Canada has lost a national treasure. Anyone who has been following my blog will know that I have been big fan of Richard Wagamese. After devouring The Medicine Walk, I could not wait to read more of his work including Indian Horse and Ragged Company. He wrote beautiful fiction which will continue to enlighten readers and encourage them to think about important issues such as residential schools, the importance of family, homelessness and substance abuse.
He also wrote non-fiction including One Native Life, a series of vignettes which formed a memoir of his life, giving insight into his challenging childhood and the life experiences which inspired such beautiful storytelling. His birth family had been scarred by residential schools leading to alcoholism, abuse, abandonment and neglect (not to mention a badly shattered shoulder leaving his arm deformed prior to a surgical repair years later). He was placed into foster care and then into an adopted family where he was also abused and left without a connection to his indigenous heritage.
He also wrote Embers: One Ojibway’s Meditations. Along with beautiful photography, Wagamese shares his own meditations and learnings from elders. Intertwined with the art and words the reader will understand the author as he shares an intimate side of himself.
Richard Wagamaese had a way of quietly telling stories with lessons of understanding, acceptance and reconsidering judgment. His books are amazing and his impact will live on. I am thankful for his writing, for his bravery and for sharing bits of his own story with readers. He had a fluid, quiet gift of storytelling which makes a reader ponder his words long after closing the book. Rest in peace Richard Wagamese.