Ryersonian Book Club: Indian Horse, by Richard Wagamese

(Matt Oxman / The Ryersonian)

(Matt Oxman / The Ryersonian)

Title: Indian Horse

Genre: Native Fiction

Pages: 221

About the Author: Richard Wagamese is one of Canada’s most prominent native authors. He has earned accolades for his column writing, poetry, six novels and five non-fiction books. Indian Horse was selected as a 2013 finalist for CBC’s Canada Reads program. Wagamese, an Ojibway from northwestern Ontario Wabaseemoong First Nation, uses his parents’ experience in residential schools as a catalyst for many of his works.

Plot: Indian Horse explores Canada’s harrowing residential school system and its impact on a family and the wider native community. Character Saul Indian Horse is introduced to the reader as an alcoholic Ojibway man forced to tell his life story in a treatment centre. Saul grows up afraid of white men. This fear comes from the devastation he and his siblings experienced at residential school, where they were forcibly stripped of their culture. A priest introduces Saul to the sport of hockey. The sport offers Saul an escape – however his joy for the game is soon stifled by racist players in Canadian hockey leagues.

Why you should read it: Indian Horse is a book all Canadians should read. Readers not only comprehend the devastation of residential schools within the native community, but feel it through Wagamese’s words. The story allows readers to develop an appreciation for the beauty of native culture and its connectivity to the earth.

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