Tag Archives: richard wagamese

You Have to Hear Their Stories

Richard Wagamese is a beautiful writer whose work I have read before and so I knew I was going to thoroughly enjoy the prose when I started his book Ragged Company.  I wasn’t disappointed. 

Despite the beauty of the writing I admit I was a little frustrated during the first half of the novel.  It depicts the lives of four homeless people who have formed a little band or family.  Amelia One Sky has three male companions Digger, Timber and Double Dick. The book starts with relating Amelia’s history so you feel like you know her right away.  But honestly the other three guys kept getting mixed up in my head as the story unfolded.  I just couldn’t keep the three of them straight and was actually a bit upset with Richard Wagamese.  Couldn’t he have found better ways to distinguish between his male protagonists?  However in the second part of the story one by one each of the men, Digger, Timber and Double Dick share their life stories and after that I had absolutely no trouble telling the men apart.  

Richard Wagamese

I don’t know whether Richard Wagamese did it purposely but his book really demonstrates that until we hear their stories homeless people sort of seem all the same to us.  They are just struggling, nameless, faceless folks we encounter begging or sleeping on the street. They aren’t individuals with individual lives and histories and personalities till……………..we listen to their stories. 

Other posts……….

Indian Horse

Teaching Kids About Being Homeless

The Break

 

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Indian Horse

I almost couldn’t bear to read parts of this book.  In Indian Horse author Richard Wagamese describes life in St. Jerome’s Indian residential school in Ontario with such descriptive prose that you are forced to put the book down at points to compose yourself and just breathe.  If that’s how I felt reading about it, what must it have been like for the children actually experiencing it? 

indian horseThe hockey team at the residential school is in some ways the salvation of Saul Indian Horse the character at the centre of the novel but in other ways it leads to the crushing of his soul and spirit. 

residential school children photo at the heard musuem

Residential school children in a photo at the Heard Museum in Phoenix Arizona

The book reminded me of an exhibit I saw at the Heard Museum in Phoenix- Remembering our Residential School Days and also of another book I read recently Bear Town where hockey becomes both a means of salvation and a destructive force in a small community. 

children residential school nwt public domain

Children at a residential school in the North West Territories

I bought this book for the Indigenous Relations section of our church library but wanted to read it myself first.  I will highly recommend it to our library users.  It makes me ashamed of what was done in the name of my religion.  It makes me incredibly sad children had to experience such suffering. It makes me realize it may not be possible to ever right this wrong. 

Other posts………..

 

Art That Makes You Feel Sick

What is the Doctrine of Discovery?

A Black and White Religion

 

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