Sunday, November 28, 2021

Book Review: "For Joshua" by Richard Wagamese

Last month I reviewed Buried Secrets in the Sgt. Windflower Mystery Series by Mike Martin. Windflower is Cree and is inspired by the works of Richard Wagamese. That inspired me to read his books.

First I read Indian Horse about the devastating repercussions residential school attendance. 

Next I chose the memoir For Joshua: An Ojibwe Father Teaches His Son.

Wagamese was taken from his parents and raised by Canadian families. He didn't learn Ojibwe culture, was bullied in school and never felt he belonged. The process became known as the "Sixties Scoop" where children were forcibly placed in non-native foster or adoptive homes. Like residential schools, it was a means to force assimilation into Canadian norms and values.

In For Joshua, Wagamese tells his life story and how he struggled to learn who he was as an Ojibwe man. Life left him estranged from his son, so he used the book to pass along important teachings.

I live in the traditional territory of the Tla'amin Nation in Coastal British Columbia. Workshops following the Truth and Reconciliation of Canada Final Report opened my eyes to past and present impacts of residential schools. Reading books by Richard Wagamese has been helpful to increase my understanding. 

Richard Wagamese was one of Canada's most famous indigenous authors. He wrote novels, memoirs and Embers, Objibwe meditations. He passed in 2017 at 61 years of age, a life ended way too soon.

Richard Wagamese's books have a Canadian focus, but forced assimilation for indigenous peoples happens in many countries. I highly recommend his works as a way to increase your understanding and get involved. -- Margy


There's the monthly Book Review Club for teen/young adult and adult fiction over at Barrie Summy's blog.

Also shared with Your the Star at Stone Cottage Adventures.

10 comments:

  1. Thank you for sharing this informative review! Being

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    1. It's important to become informed in order to help in an appropriate way. - Margy

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  2. What a tough, but important read. I hope this book speaks to the author's son, too. I'd be curious to look at Embers, as well. Thanks for the link and for reviewing!

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    1. There is no mention about if or how he shared it with his son. I would hope so. - Margy

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  3. Sounds like an important book, Margy. Thanks for the review. Tweeted and shared on FB.

    Linda McLaughlin

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    1. Thanks for sharing the review on Twitter and Facebook. You are so thoughtful to do that every month. - Margy

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  4. Hi Margy, The issue of forced assimilation for indigenous peoples is something I want to learn about. Reading this book might be a good start. I simply don't understand why humans think they need to force cultural changes on others in the way they have done with residential schools. Thank you for the review. John

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    1. I think this book would be a good one for you to read. The Coast Salish nations in the Pacific Northwest are related to those in Coastal BC. In "Written As I Remember It" elder Elsie Paul from the Tla'amin Nation near Powell River explains how family members moved back and forth for work and cultural activities. - Margy

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  5. Not that many years ago, Euro-Americans assumed that our culture was so superior that all young people needed to be part of it. It seems so misguided now.

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  6. I like Wagamese's books! I've read two of them in french. great writer!

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We welcome your comments and questions. - Wayne and Margy