Thursday, April 4, 2013
I finished reading Richard Wagamese's Indian Horse while sitting on a plane coming from Edmonton. I wanted to hold the book to my heart and cry which for me is the sign of a good book.I also wanted to shout to the plane full of people that this is a book Canada should read.I read most of the book while visiting my daughter and two little granddaughters and on more than one occasion I hollered out as I read of such cruelty and heartlessness at St. Jerome's. As a mother , grandmother and teacher I could not even imagine being witness to such evil disregard for individual value. It is really beyond grasping how a child can be stripped of everything that matters to their very being and then casually buried out back. Then I struggled through the blatant racism in small town Canada and in sport. I know this is reality and I am ashamed of it.I also know that there are layers to this racism that are age old and complicated but definitely worthy of honest reflection and debate. I listened every day to the debates of Canada Reads and I registered some of the comments made about Indian Horse but had not read the book so didn't really engage in the debate. I read February and certainly would take nothing away from Lisa Moore's win. But come on people. How could some of the comments made about Indian Horse have been made if they had really read and embraced the writing at all. I don't know how Richard kept from losing his mind upon hearing remarks like "The sport should have been lacrosse". Really! The powers at St. Jerome's stripped the residents of everything "Indian " but would have encouraged Saul to play Lacrosse? "No redeeming white character." I found one but Erv Swift didn't ride in and save the day and I would have been pissed off if he had. "No hope." That is the biggest unfair statement of all.Hope was the powerful message of this book. Saul's mere survival showed hope and the fact that he explored the horrific events of his childhood brought hope from the only real and lasting place it can come from,a place deep within that sees where the soul has been but where by choice it can find a place to reside that gives it a reason for hope. This is what made me want to sob and what will give Indian Horse a place of honor on my book shelf.