Wawatay Communications Society is profoundly saddened by the passing of acclaimed Ojiway author and journalist, Richard Wagamese. Wagamese was a long-time contributor to Wawatay News. He was 61.
Wagamese, from the Wabaseemoong First Nation in northwestern Ontario, has been a professional writer since 1979. Many of his writings were inspired by the legacy the residential school system has had on First Nation communities and its citizens. His writings also drew heavily on his own childhood experiences.
As one of Canada's most accomplished Indigenous storytellers, his body of work includes six novels, a book of poetry, and five non-fiction titles. In 1991 he became the first Indigenous writer to win a National Newspaper Award as a columnist.
In 2013 he won both the Molson Prize (awarded by the Canada Council for the Arts), and the Burt Award for First Nations, Métis and Inuit Literature. He has also twice won the Native American Press Association Award and the National Aboriginal Communications Society Award.
In 2010, he received an Honorary Doctor of Letters degree from Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops, and in 2011 he was the Harvey Stevenson Southam Guest Lecturer in journalism at the University of Victoria.
Wagamese won numerous other literary awards throughout his life.
His Family members in northwestern Ontario confirmed he passed away on Friday March 10 at his home in Kamloops, British Columbia.
On Twitter, Assembly of First Nations Chief Perry Bellegarde said Wagamese: "Profoundly told the stories of our peoples. We lost a great storyteller and he will be sorely missed.''