Renowned Ojibway author Richard Wagamese dead at 61

APTN National News
Renowned author Richard Wagamese has died at the age of 61.

His passing was announced on Twitter by University of Victoria Chancellor Shelagh Rogers.

“Heartbroken over the death of my friend and chosen brother Richard Wagamese,” tweeted Rogers, who is also a CBC broadcaster. “He was story. He was love. RIP dear one….An eagle is flying outside. Has been all morning.”

Wagamese was an award-winning Ojibway author from Wabaseemoong First Nation.

He began his writing career in 1979 as a journalist. In 1991, he became the first indigenous writer to win a National Newspaper Award for column writing.

He also won the George Ryga Award for Social Awareness in Literature for his 2011 memoir “One Story, One Song,” the Canadian Authors Association Award for Fiction for his novel “Dream Wheels” in 2007 and the Alberta Writers Guild Best Novel Award for his debut novel “Keeper’n Me” in 1994.

His niece Rhonda Fisher says his works were also greatly influenced by his own childhood experiences. She says he was removed from his family by the Children’s Aid Society as part of the ’60s Scoop and ended up in foster care in southern Ontario.

Fisher says members of the Wabaseemoong Independent Nations “looked up to him and we were really, really proud of him.”

Wagamese’s novels also included Indian Horse, which will be made into a movie, Medicine Walk and For Joshua: An Ojibway Father Teachers His Son.

“I’m going to the land today. I’m going to sing, to pray, to sit in splendid isolation and hear the sound of my own heartbeat mingled with the heartbeat of the Earth that I feel through the bottoms of my feet. I’m going to the only cathedral I will ever need. I’m going to fill geography and allow that geography to fill me. I’m going to remember that I am a creature and that the land sustains me. I’m going to remember that it does not exist for me. I exist for it. I’m going to be joined to all my relations – everything under the sun,” wrote Wagamese, on Facebook in July 2013.

-with files from The Canadian Press


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6 thoughts on “Renowned Ojibway author Richard Wagamese dead at 61

  1. Richard Wagamese’s ‘One Native Life’ changed my life when I happened upon it a number of years ago. I owe him a tremendous debt of gratitude. Rest in peace, you kind non-judgemental being, and condolences to all his family and friends.

  2. This news is very heartbreaking and heartfelt for his family and friends and all our people. All our nations.

  3. RIP Richard. What amazing contributions that you selflessly and warmly gave to writing, storytelling and workshops. May you only feel peace, pure joy and love in heaven. God bless you.

  4. Richard was my dear friend. We corresponded for 3.5 years. He gave me too much credit for my “creative writing”, because I can’t come up with the words to adequately describe what his presence in my life meant to me, today. Fly with the eagles, my brother. Richard was a sky-watcher, loved all things celestial. The only difference between yesterday and today is that he’s been promoted to a better seat in the planetarium…… Much love <3

  5. Heartbroken to hear this sad news. A gentle, kind, brilliant self-made man I dreamed of spending an afternoon with writing…hearing his beautiful words rain down on us like bright shiny pebbles, nuggets of wisdom and common sense. To stand in Richard’s welcoming light and share our stories of hope and survival. He appreciated and loved all beings despite the challenges of his or anyone’s past. He understood the beauty in brokenness. I will always be inspired by his story and his writing. Soar in perfect peace my friend. Good journey.

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