Opening Indian Horse

28 Jan Opening Indian Horse

When Karen & Bonnie chose Indian Horse by Richard Wagamese, I was thrilled. Another Canadian novel…and written by a friend of mine, no less. Living in Kamloops, I had the pleasure of watching Richard take to the stage at Thompson Rivers University, mesmerizing the audience with his stories, so captivating in all their sensory detail. A true story teller (with a panache for acting), Richard speaks as beautifully as he writes. Indian Horse: A Canada Reads Contender

He and his lovely wife, Debra, invited me into their home to share my work with friends gathered in the name of kinship and art and I have followed his career since. With my relocation to Kelowna, I haven’t seen them in a few years, but I more than pleased to get back in touch, to become enraptured in Richard’s work once again.

I love the way his words resonate with the voice of an Ojibway elder, simply lyrical and imminently wise; warm and comforting, set against the bitter, harsh reality of the cold, Canadian winter & a family devastated by the capture of their children and the subsequent loss of their rich, native ways.

It’s early 1961 when life as he honored it dies for Saul Indian Horse, a young child, living a bush life with his family in rural, norther Ontario. Existence revolves around survival–living off the land–and protecting the children from the Zhaunagush (the white man) who have already stolen a sister Saul has never met. When Saul’s older brother, Benjamin, is taken too, life unravels for everyone.

Saul’s parents, especially his mother, lose themselves in grief, sucumbing  to the drink to forget the anguish of loosing their children to the residential school–a life they know only too well, as survivors of the same.

The family flees the bush, seeking refuge in one tent village to the next. When Benjamin   finds them again (having run away from the school), life holds promise once more as the family finds peace–for a short time–at God’s Lake. With Benjamin coughing up blood and the wise matriarch, Saul’s paternal grandmother, Naomi, growing more frail, the stage is set for Saul’s life to change…again…

Stay with me for the next two weeks as we journey with Saul, learning the ways of the Ojibway and the devastating life too many led in a dark part of Canadian history….