Joseph Boyden's new book explores Canada's formative years

The Giller Prize-winning author talks to CBC about his new book, The Orenda.

Joseph Boyden interview

9 years ago
Duration 7:19
Giller Prize-winning author talks about his new book, The Orenda

Giller Award-winning author Joseph Boyden is taking readers to the origins of Canada in his latest novel.

The Orenda, due out on Sept. 10, takes place just after Jesuits made first contact with First Nations in what became known as Upper Canada, and then Ontario.

The perspective veers between a Jesuit priest, a captured Iroquois girl and a Huron leader named Bird, who tries to make peace with them both.

In an interview with the CBC, Boyden described his reasons for fleshing out the First Nations who inhabited the continent long before anyone from across the Atlantic Ocean arrived.

Joseph Boyden's latest novel, The Orenda, is due in stores Sept. 10. (Hamish Hamilton publishing)

"These were incredibly complex, sophisticated people that have been around for 10,000 years when the Jesuits arrived, as complex a spiritual system, as complex a society, as complex a social system as anyone in the world," says Boyden.

"This novel, in a way, is an exploration of this first wrestling with different world views – that we still see today, in First Nations life versus the western world."

Boyden's first novel, Three Day Road, won the Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Price in 2005. His 2008 novel Through Black Spruce won the Scotiabank Giller Prize that year. Born in Willowdale, Ont., of Irish, Scottish and Métis heritage, Boyden writes about First Nations characters and life both in modern and historical settings.

Check out the video above for the CBC's full interview with Joseph Boyden.