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Richard Wagamese Review Essay

Richard Wagamese, Canadian author who wrote the book “ Indian Horse” came to speak at Acadia. I was blown away from his speech. He came to the podium, humble and spoke in his native language. He then translated what he had said, welcoming and thanking everyone in the audience. Wagamese then began retelling his past. He started off with the 60’s scoop, being one of the victims and taken away to a white foster family. He described to have lost family name and his identity. Wagamese faced many hardships in his new home.

He described his first feelings of abuse, since he was never hit before; his first hit was so surprising he didn’t know what to feel. Then in school kids would bully him for being “slow”, for not being able to spell the alphabet. No one taught him how to learn, and so he tried to learn all by himself. Then, Wagamese told the audience about a particular teacher. She was the one who stuck with him, discovered his terrible vision, got him glasses, and patiently taught him everyday the alphabet. “Hold on to that story,” Wagamese said.

He fast forwarded until he was sixteen. When he discovered he had the rights to leave the foster home. He left, stranded on the streets and starving for food. One night he found a place to sleep. He put his ‘nice’ pair of shoes on the side of his head and the next morning they were gone. In March with winter just lifting off and only a pair of socks on, he marched through the wet slush. Along the way a man selflessly helped Wagamese dry off and warm up with a couple of cups of coffee. Again he repeated, “Hold on to that story.” Wagamese moved to another story about a library he visited everyday to educate himself. A librarian noticed him, how he would come and sit for hours and read. Noticing he was hungry, she took a step ahead and left a lunch bag for him to eat. They eventually connected and from then on Wagamese discovered more about the library from the librarian.

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