Joseph Boyden, author of “Three Day Road”, “Through Black Spruce”, “The Orenda” and winner of Canada Reads for 2014 will be the guest speaker on Wednesday September 24th, 2014 at 7:30 p.m. at West Hill United Church, 62 Orchard Pk. Drive at Kingston Road, Scarborough, On M1E 3T7. This is a benefit for Camp Onakawana, a camp for kids in the far north, which is dear to Mr. Boyden’s heart. A ‘meet and greet’ with the author and book signing will follow with light refreshments. Tickets are by donation, suggested minimum $20.00, in advance, from the church. Make cheques payable to: West Hill United Church. For more information call 416-282-8566.
The First Nations Study Group at West Hill United Church has been meeting for over 3 years. Through our group studies, the heartbreak of the ongoing tragedy of the suicides and attempted suicides amongst young people on reserves has been painfully brought home to us. Joseph Boyden and his close friends are striving to make a difference in the lives of the young people in the far north, changing despair into self-reliance. We hope that you will be able to join us on September 24th, to help make a difference, too!
BUILDING SOMETHING, by Joseph Boyden
There’s a place in the wilderness of the northern lowlands, a paradise dotted by black spruce and poplar, tamarack and ash, the earth woven with rivers and pocked by muskeg. It’s true bush, about 220 kilometers north of Cochrane, Ontario, and about 90 kilometers south of Moosonee and its northern reserve cousin, Moose Factory.
In recent years, these communities, and others very similar to them right across Canada’s north, have been devastated by waves of young people taking their own lives. There are the theories: brutal socio-economic conditions, psycho-biological tendencies, the post-traumatic stress of a culture’s destruction. Ultimately, though, no one is quite sure why the rate is often 100 times higher than the Canadian average. All we know is that something desperately needs to be done.
So we’re doing something. We are building a camp for kids there, where the Abitibi River meets another, much smaller river, the camp’s namesake, the Onakawana.
We are working hard to change despair into self-reliance, of changing that frightening feeling of being lost into always knowing how to find home, of changing the belief that there isn’t much of a future into seeing that the world is your oyster, or should I say, your netted sturgeon, your beaded moccasin, your moose tenderloin, your sweat lodge, your eagle feather, your round dance in the wilderness, surrounded by your friends.
And what makes me especially happy is that this camp, Onakawana, won’t be the only one. It’s just the first in what will be camps for youth across Canada, where young people can get to learn and get to share, maybe get to find themselves a little bit. It’s a place where they are encouraged to simply become themselves.