Wagamese at the Eden Mills Writers' Festival in 2013
October 14, 1955|
Minaki, Ontario, Canada
March 10, 2017 (aged 61)|
Kamloops, British Columbia, Canada
|Occupation||novelist, poet, television writer|
|Genre||First Nations literature|
|Notable works||Indian Horse|
|Notable awards||Burt Award for First Nations, Métis and Inuit Literature (2013)|
Richard Wagamese (October 14, 1955 - March 10, 2017) was a Canadian author and journalist. An Ojibwe from the Wabaseemoong Independent Nations in northwestern Ontario, he was best known for his 2012 novel Indian Horse, which won the Burt Award for First Nations, Métis and Inuit Literature in 2013 and was a competing title in the 2013 edition of Canada Reads.
Wagamese described his first home in his essay "The Path to Healing" as a tent hung from a spruce bough. He and his three siblings, abandoned by adults on a binge drinking trip in Kenora, left the bush camp when they had run out of food and sheltered at a railroad depot. Found by a policeman, he would not see his family again for 21 years. He later described the adults in his family. "Each of the adults had suffered in an institution that tried to scrape the Indian out of their insides, and they came back to the bush raw, sore and aching." His parents, Marjorie Wagamese and Stanley Raven, had been among the many native children who, under Canadian law, were removed from their families and forced to attend certain government-run residential schools, the primary purpose of which was to separate them from their native culture.
After being taken from his family by the Children's Aid Society, he was raised in foster homes in northwestern Ontario before being adopted, at age nine, by a family that refused to allow him to maintain contact with his First Nations heritage and identity. Of this experience he wrote: "The wounds I suffered went far beyond the scars on my buttocks." He was moved to St. Catharines, Ontario. The beatings and abuse he endured in foster care led him to leave home at 16, seeking to reconnect with indigenous culture. Then, he lived on the street, abusing drugs and alcohol, and was imprisoned several times.
He reunited with his family at age 23. After recounting his life to this point, an elder gave him the name Mushkotay Beezheekee Anakwat - Buffalo Cloud - and told him his role was to tell stories.
His first job as a journalist was with the First Nations publication New Breed.
Wagamese was married and divorced three times and had two sons Joshua and Jason. Married to Catherine Deery May 10, 1999 divorced August 2009
Wagamese was a native affairs columnist and music reviewer for the Calgary Herald prior to writing fiction. He won a National Newspaper Award for column writing in 1991, becoming the first indigenous writer ever to win that award.
He has since published five other novels, a book of poetry, and five non-fiction books, including two memoirs and an anthology of his newspaper writings,. He also wrote for the television series North of 60.
In 2015 he received the Writers' Trust of Canada's Matt Cohen Award for his body of work. In the same year, Canada's Super Channel announced that it was funding a film adaptation of Indian Horse, to be directed by Stephen Campanelli and written by Dennis Foon. Following Super Channel's filing for creditor protection, the film Indian Horse instead premiered theatrically at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival.
|Book||Awards & Honours|
|Keeper'n Me. Anchor Canada. 1994. ISBN 978-0-385-66283-3.|
|A Quality of Light. Doubleday Canada. 1997. ISBN 978-0-385-25606-3.|
|For Joshua. Anchor Canada. 2003. ISBN 978-0-385-65953-6.|
|Dream Wheels. Anchor Canada. 2007. ISBN 978-0-385-66200-0.||2007 Canadian Authors Association MOSAID Technologies Inc. Award for Fiction|
|One Native Life. Douglas & McIntyre. 2008. ISBN 978-1-55365-364-6.||Included in The Globe and Mails 2008 Top 100 Books of the Year|
|Ragged Company. Anchor Canada. 2009. ISBN 978-0-307-37263-5.|
|One Story, One Song. Douglas & McIntyre. 2011. ISBN 978-1-55365-506-0.||2011 George Ryga Award for Social Awareness in Literature|
|The Next Sure Thing. Raven Books. 2011. ISBN 9781554699001.|
|Runaway Dreams. Ronsdale Press. 2011. ISBN 9781553801290.|
|Indian Horse. Douglas & McIntyre. 2012. ISBN 978-1-55365-402-5.||2013 Burt Award for First Nations, Métis and Inuit Literature|
|Medicine Walk. McClelland & Stewart. 2014. ISBN 978-0-7710-8918-3.||2015 Banff Mountain Book Festival Grand Award|
|Embers: One Ojibway's Meditations. Douglas & McIntyre. 2016. ISBN 978-1-77162-133-5.||2017 Bill Duthie Booksellers' Choice Award|