A look at the history of Canada's residential schools

'Indian Horse' by Richard Wagamese
'Indian Horse' by Richard Wagamese
Courtesy of publisher

Every week, The Thread checks in with booksellers around the country about their favorite books of the moment. This week, we spoke with Mara Panich-Crouch from Fact & Fiction Bookstore in Missoula, Mont.

Novelist Richard Wagamese made his mark on the Canadian literature scene as a novelist and essayist. Though the author died last spring, his work is steadily finding a new audience in the U.S.

Several of Mara Panich-Crouch's fellow booksellers urged her to pick up Wagamese's "Indian Horse" — and when she did, she immediately understood its power.

"The book is about Saul Indian Horse, who is a First Nations Ojibwe boy, taken by the residential schools," Panich-Crouch said. "It's about the idea of being a residential school survivor."

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Though Panich-Crouch knew the history of Native Americans and boarding schools in the U.S., Wagamese's work offered another perspective. "Reading this, it made me realize that Canada had a lot of the same programs that we did."

In the novel, Saul "finds sport through hockey ... And that helps him basically overcome the trauma, and get through the trauma of the residential school situations."

The writing "really made me want to start sharing it with people who ... wanted to find new, fairly unknown — at least in the U.S. — Native writers."

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