There are many things that have stuck with me from this novel including the heartbreak and the happiness of the main character as he struggles to fit in with his birth family.
The Winnipeg Public Library is running a pretty cool contest called The Last Word on First Words with some pretty cool prizes. All you have to do to win is tell them why in 250 words or less which piece of Indigenous writing you recommend and why.
This got me thinking, which piece is my favourite? The first one I ever read? In Search of April Raintree by Beatrice Mosionier; or is it Green Grass, Running Water by Thomas King; or Brothers in Arms by my husband Jordan Wheeler. Just kidding about that last one - I haven't read it.
I did, however, read Keeper'n Me by Richard Wagamese. I really connected with this book because the main character Garnet Raven was removed from his home and raised in a series of foster homes. I was adopted into a non-native family as an infant.
Author Richard Wagamese
is the story of the connection to and discovery of one's culture. And it's beautifully written.
It's been more than 17 years since I read this book, but I can still see the gravel road leading into the fictional White Dog Reserve in north western Ontario. There are many things that have stuck with me from this novel: how the road rises and falls, the sun dancing on the lake, the colourful characters, the heartbreak and the happiness of the main character as he struggles to fit in with his birth family.
It's a story about the 60's Scoop, another example of how the Canadian government tried to "kill the Indian in the child." As if residential schools weren't bad enough, that government agency known as Children's Aid back then, forcibly removed Aboriginal kids from their families and adopted them out.
I, personally, know a lot of Aboriginal adoptees who have connected with their families and their cultures. In my case, the reconnection didn't end happily. But reading Keeper'n Me
, I realized I wasn't alone out there.
It's an important story about tragedy and triumph that isn't well-known in the public's collective knowledge. And it's not just a story, it's based on reality. The 20th anniversary of Keeper'n Me
is in 2014 and this book is just as relevant as the day it was written. And that's why I think everyone should read it.
And it's that simple. So tell the Winnipeg Public Library your "last word" on your favourite piece of writing by an Indigenous writer from Turtle Island (North America) by June 30. You could win a Sony eReader and a library of Indigenous work. There are two age categories, too. All the details can be found here