It's mysterious how often the people who have endured the greatest suffering are the ones who learn to be the most loving, and give the greatest gifts to the world. We've just lost such a man, one of Canada's most amazing storytellers.
Richard Wagamese survived childhood in a residential school, periods of addiction and homelessness, and alienation from his son.
Before completing his 61 years on earth, he faced his darkest memories, eschewed bitterness and developed the loving wisdom to advise, "Walk gently on the earth and do no harm."
I first heard Richard Wagamese in 2010 at CanWrite! in Victoria. With the most minimal prompts from the audience, he created and shared a spellbinding oral story. Since then I have been inspired by his books and I've posted a number of times about his work.
Something Wagamese often said: in the end, all we are is our stories. As Wagamese's character Saul Indian Horse tells us, "If we want to live at peace with ourselves," we must tell them.
And when our last tale is told, "We become eternal by being held in memory's loving arms." As you are held, from this day forward, Richard Wagamese.
A recent Shelagh Rogers interview with Richard Wagamese is here.