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