Monday March 20, 2017

Love and tributes for Ojibway storyteller Richard Wagamese

(L - R) Thomas King, Richard Wagamese and Lee Maracle at the Vancouver Writers Festival in 2014

(L - R) Thomas King, Richard Wagamese and Lee Maracle at the Vancouver Writers Festival in 2014 (Supplied)

Listen 48:23

The prolific author and orator Richard Wagamese passed away March 10, 2017. He was 61-years-old. He wrote six novels, a book of poetry and five non-fiction titles including: Indian Horse, Medicine Walk, For Joshua, and Runaway Dreams.

Thomas King, author of The Inconvenient Indian:

"Richard was able to do what all great writers are able to do and that is to put themselves in a vulnerable position when they write. To where you don't, sort of, protect yourself and your emotions, you just lay it all out there and you do it in a way that's real, that feels real. We're writing fiction, we're creating blueprints for the imagination and Richard was one of the best at doing that. You could put yourself into his characters, you could feel what they were feeling, see what they were seeing. He was an incisive writer in that way."

Drew Hayden Taylor, author of Take Us to Your Chief:

"He opened a portal to some of the negative things that have happened to native people in his fiction but how he turned it around and used it to positive ends. How he turned some of the darker aspects of the native experience and told enterprising, healing, entertaining and its own way glorifying literature about the native experience."

WaubAndRich

Waubgeshig Rice said Richard Wagamese "...inspired me to write creatively and proudly about being Anishinaabe." (Supplied)


Waubgeshig Rice, author of Legacy:
"He always took the time to offer fledgling authors like me advice on the craft and the business. He wanted to ensure that we were equipped to take our places in the modern storytelling realm, and he advocated to make space for us in Canadian literature. He believed that our strong collective voice as Indigenous storytellers would not only bolster our communities, it would force Canadians to notice us and become aware of our stories and experiences."

ShelaghAndRich

Shelagh Rogers, host of CBC's The Next Chapter called Richard her Chosen Brother over their decades long friendship. (Supplied)

Shelagh Rogers, chosen sister of Richard Wagamese: 

"He left me a stone that was given to him by an Elder and it's a beautiful stone. It was in this Elders pocket for many years and it's a worried stone. You can feel the imprint of her thumb and then his thumb and I'll hold on to that. I'm holding on to him. I don't want to let him go and you know what? He would tell me, 'you idiot, I'm not going anywhere, I am that person on your shoulder, can't you feel me?' He told me many times, spirit never dies, so I'll hold on that.'  

Kim Wheeler, former booking agent to Richard Wagamese:

"His very first novel Keeper 'n Me changed me. It changed my perspective. Like Richard, I too am a child of the Sixties Scoop.  I was raised by a non-Indigenous family with no cultural references in my life. It wasn't until I was grown and going to university that I even began to understand and embrace my culture and not be ashamed of it."