By Christine Smith (McFarlane)
TORONTO – In conjunction with First Nations House and the Aboriginal Studies Program at the University of Toronto, Waubgeshig Rice launched his book Legacy on Oct. 17.
Legacy is the first novel by Rice, whose collection of stories Midnight Sweatlodge was the Gold Medal Winner of the Independent Publisher Book Awards, 2012 for Adult Multicultural Fiction. It’s a book that not only deals with a legacy of loss but also offers hope, inspiration and the possibility of redefining of legacy in light of difficult situations.
Rice, citizen of Wasauksing First Nation, shared why he chose to write about the legacy of loss.
“I met a lot of people as a journalist who were dealing with similar losses and experiences,” said Rice. “Especially Indigenous people who either had a brother who was murdered (gang related), or an aunt or sister who was missing or someone who had committed suicide in the family.
“I found that for the people I met specifically while working in Winnipeg – loss sort of defined their family but they were working towards redefining their family’s legacy and it inspired me to see how people were staying hopeful and staying positive in light of these situations. My family has also had to deal with significant tragedies and I have seen how they’ve reflected on these situations in order to heal and move forward. That’s where the inspiration came from for me to write about this.”
Rice said that he wanted to show that these stereotypes exist.
“They exist for a reason and they are some hardships behind them. It may be uncomfortable for Indigenous writers to read them, but it’s best to confront them head on as ugly as they are and the best way to move beyond them and bust them as myths is to talk about them and show the humanity of the people behind the stereotypes. The characters in the book work hard to confront these stereotypes and move beyond them and I hope that by showing that aspect, it will offer hope.”
He also tells aspiring writers to keep at it and write as much as they can.
“It’s important to be confident, to be proud and confident in your work, and not to be afraid to share your work. You also need to be prepared to develop a thick skin so that you can hear criticism and feedback – because at the core of it, words are secondary but if your story is strong, that is what people will want to hear.”
Waubgeshig Rice was this year’s recipient of the Debwewin Citation for Excellence in Storytelling. Legacy can be purchased at http://www.theytus.com/Book-List/Legacy