Penticton students harness Richard Wagamese’s energy

A buzz of energy from Penticton students filled the room at a workshop held by celebrated Ojibway author Richard Wagamese.

Canadian author Richard Wagamese chats with high school students Maddy Tebbutt (right) and Harlan Kruger (left) who participated in a three-day workshop with the award-winning author.

Canadian author Richard Wagamese chats with high school students Maddy Tebbutt (right) and Harlan Kruger (left) who participated in a three-day workshop with the award-winning author.

A buzz of energy from students filled the room during the lunch break at a workshop held by celebrated Ojibway author Richard Wagamese.

“It is so awesome,” said Haley Regan, a Grade 11 student from Princess Margaret Secondary School. “Hearing his stories has really made me interested in what it would be like to be an author.”

Wagamese was invited to lead the writing workshop held over three days this week with 13 students from Maggie and Pen-High. Regan said she first heard about the renowned author from her mom who works at the En’owkin Centre and immediately knew she wanted to be part of this workshop that is focused on inspiring kids to open their imagination and let their creative energy flow on paper, as well as gain confidence in reading their own work aloud.

“I came from a very creative family. My nana is an arts teacher and my mom is a published author. I got into the writing, music and arts thing, but public speaking has always been one of my passions because I get to speak about matters that are really important to me,” said Regan, who found the workshop helpful in improving her skills in this area.

Some of the students said they gained confidence in standing in front of people to speak, others said it was interesting learning how to put their words into creative sentences. For Julian Kruger, a Grade 9 student at Maggie it opened up a whole new passion.

“Writing isn’t something that I am usually interested in, but this is pretty interesting. In school they give you a subject and they expect you to follow all the rules. (Wagamese) is letting us use our imaginations and write about whatever we want,” said Kruger.

It is one of the things Wagamese, who regularly visits universities and colleges to conduct workshops, had set out to do.

“This is the whole reason why I do what I do. I come to schools because I believe if students can get even a short glimpse of the energy that is possible when you work at a heightened level that it will be attractive to them and they will want to do more with it. I can see that happening with them already,” he said.

Wagamese is one of Canada’s foremost First Nation authors and storytellers, working as a professional writer since 1979. He has been a newspaper columnist, reporter, radio and television broadcaster and producer, documentary producer.

Wagamese is the author of 11 titles from major Canadian publishers. His latest novel, Indian Horse, was featured on Canada Reads. He is also the recipient of many honours including the George Ryga award for Social Awareness in Literature in 2011.

“Words and language and writing changed my life. It gave me a career, it gave me a passion and it gave me a reason for being. I know how valuable that is to somebody’s life, especially to a young life,” said Wagamese. “I come to schools as often as I can to be able to give some of that away and see it catch on. We did an exercise this morning and I saw it catch on around the room and I really believe when young people feel the energy of language working in them it becomes one of the most attractive and most addictive kind of energy they will ever encounter and I want to be able to give that away as much as possible.”

Anne Tenning, the school district’s vice principal of aboriginal education, organized the workshops and included a storytelling performance called Our Voices Our Stories on Wednesday evening at Maggie. Wagamese’s reading was followed up by the students reading their own work. The workshops classes prepared the kids for the evening.

“We talked about the energy that comes when you harness language, when you harness word energy and find a way to use your imagination and your own personal history and things you know, regardless of what age you are or what grade level you are, to express yourself openly and without fear and with confidence,” said Wagamese.

“The stuff the students are reading is really, really good and I know they are getting it. This has been wonderful.”

Just Posted

(File photo)
Supreme Court Justice rules Bay has to pay Penticton’s Cherry Lane mall

The ruling found that there had been no unavoidable delay preventing the Bay from paying their rent

Summerland cidery Millionaires' Row is hosting a Father's Day car and art show. (Facebook)
Vintage cars, art and cider for Father’s Day

Summerland’s Millionaires’ Row Cider Co. is hosting the car and art show

This undated file photo provided by Ernie Carswell & Partners shows the home featured in the opening and closing scenes of The Brady Bunch in Los Angeles. Do you know the occupation of Mike Brady, the father in this show about a blended family? (Anthony Barcelo/Ernie Carswell & Partners via AP, File)
QUIZ: A celebration of dad on Father’s Day

How much do you know about famous fathers?

James Miller, the managing editor at the Penticton Herald, has been voted in for Jake Kimberley’s vacated council seat. (Submitted)
James Miller elected as Penticton city councillor

Penticton also voted yes to allowing up to 25 years for a Skaha Marina contract

The Eyes of the Tigers on the 2021 Beer Run on June 19. (Brennan Phillips - Western News)
Penticton Beer Runners take trip around local beaches and brews

Over 160 people signed up to come back after the 2020 run was cancelled

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

Barbara Violo, pharmacist and owner of The Junction Chemist Pharmacy, draws up a dose behind vials of both Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines on the counter, in Toronto, Friday, June 18, 2021. An independent vaccine tracker website founded by a University of Saskatchewan student says just over 20 per cent of eligible Canadians — those 12 years old and above — are now fully vaccinated. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
At least 20% of eligible Canadians fully vaccinated, 75% with one dose: data

Earlier projections for reopening at this milestone didn’t include Delta variant

Emily Steele holds up a collage of her son, 16-year-old Elijah-Iain Beauregard who was stabbed and killed in June 2019, outside of Kelowna Law Courts on June 18. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
Kelowna woman who fatally stabbed Eli Beauregard facing up to 1.5 years of jail time

Her jail sentence would be followed by an additional one to 1.5 years of supervision

Cpl. Scott MacLeod and Police Service Dog Jago. Jago was killed in the line of duty on Thursday, June 17. (RCMP)
Abbotsford police, RCMP grieve 4-year-old service dog killed in line of duty

Jago killed by armed suspect during ‘high-risk’ incident in Alberta

The George Road wildfire near Lytton, B.C., has grown to 250 hectares. (BC Wildfire Service)
B.C. drone sighting halts helicopters fighting 250 hectares of wildfire

‘If a drone collides with firefighting aircraft the consequences could be deadly,’ says BC Wildfire Service

A dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is pictured at a vaccination site in Vancouver Thursday, March 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
NACI advice to mix vaccines gets varied reaction from AstraZeneca double-dosers

NACI recommends an mRNA vaccine for all Canadians receiving a second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine

A aerial view shows the debris going into Quesnel Lake caused by a tailings pond breach near the town of Likely, B.C., Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Updated tailings code after Mount Polley an improvement: B.C. mines auditor

British Columbia’s chief auditor of mines has found changes to the province’s requirements for tailings storage facilities

Starting in 2022, the Columbia Shuswap Regional District is extending dog control to the entire Electoral Area D. (Stock photo)
Dog control bylaw passes in Shuswap area despite ‘threatening’ emails

CSRD board extending full dog control in Electoral Area D starting next year

A North Vancouver man was arrested Friday and three police officers were injured after a 10-person broke out at English Bay on June 19, 2021. (Youtube/Screen grab)
Man arrested, 3 police injured during 10-person brawl at Vancouver beach

The arrest was captured on video by bystanders, many of whom heckled the officers as they struggled with the handcuffed man

Most Read