I was listening to the morning news a couple of days ago when I learned that Richard Wagamese, one of my favourite Canadian authors, had passed away at age 61. While many of the other news stories were saddening, this piece of news broke my heart.
I heard Mr. Wagamese speak at my sister’s graduation ceremony at Lakehead University a couple of years ago, and was struck by his humour and his humility. I went home to Toronto and immediately read his novel “Medicine Walk”, and then “Indian Horse” and then “One Story One Song”. These books have shaped who I am, and how I think. I’m looking forward to reading the rest of his books in the coming months and years.
I am so grateful for Richard’s courage in sharing his perspective and experience as an indigenous person, and for gently inviting others to understand things from his point of view. He had a beautiful way of sharing really difficult content in such a way that you felt invited into becoming part of the solution.
Today is the second anniversary of the passing of my friend Iggy. Like Richard Wagamese, Iggy experienced a great deal of trauma in his life, simply because he was aboriginal. And, like Richard Wagamese, he had an incredible spirit of humour and humility. I learned so much from Iggy about community and vulnerability, and it was a true honour that he considered me a friend. Like Mr. Wagamese, Iggy shared deep and painful memories of his own past, but (usually) in such a way that we, his community, felt welcomed into his healing journey.
I am grieved that these two men are gone, but deeply grateful that they both left behind such wonderful works of art – literary art, visual art, and the beauty etched on our hearts.
Iggy with Greg Paul (pastor at Sanctuary)