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Wagamese receives honourary degree from Lakehead University

Thursday June 12, 2014
Courtesy of Lakehead University

Wabaseemoong First Nation’s Richard Wagamese received an honourary Doctor of Letters from Lakehead University on May 31. After being a victim of the 60’s Scoop, Wagamese never completed high school but educated himself through reading and other media. He has since published 13 books, his latest being “Medicine Walk,” which was released earlier this year.

Acclaimed First Nations author Richard Wagamese received an honourary Doctor of Letters from Lakehead University on May 31.

A member of Wabaseemoong First Nation in northwestern Ontario, Wagamese has published 13 books in his writing career.

He is known for his many books including Indian Horse, which describes the life of an Ojibwe man who, as a child, was taken from his family and his northern Ontario home and put in the residential school system.

His most recent book is Medicine Walk, a novel about the struggle between a father and son set in British Columbia.

Wagamese also worked as newspaper columnist and reporter and has also done work in radio and television.

Cynthia Wesley, vice provost of Aboriginal Initiatives at Lakehead University, said Wagamese is an author easily deserving of an honourary doctorate.

“He dropped out of school so for him, he’s done the work certainly of people who have gone through an educative process and earned a Phd,” she said. “He’s one of ours so it felt like the right thing to do.”

Wagamese received the degree during Lakehead’s convocation ceremony on May 31, and addressed graduates and undergraduates from the school’s Faculty of Education and the Faculty of Business Administration.

“He did a wonderful speech,” Wesley said. “He told a story about being taken away from family during 60s scoop, how he had gone through being homeless and read every book he could get his hands on. He was really self-educated.”

“I think it’s really important that we as indigenous people recognize each other for the work that we do,” Wesley said.

Wagamese currently resides in Kamloops, B.C.

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I was introduced to Richard

I was introduced to Richard Wagamese when his novel INDIAN HORSE was a contender for the Canada Reads competition on CBC in 2013. I bought & read that novel which inspired me to want to read more of Richard's work. I have just finished reading RAGGED COMPANY. It was such a beautifully composed description of my own life experience that I wish I had written it myself. I will always love Richard Wagamese for his telling of my life and the lives of my friends.

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