a remote corner of the Wasauksing First Nation community, Waubgeshig
Rice developed a passion for story telling at an early age.
always enjoyed writing short stories and part of it was due to my
upbringing on Wasauksing and a lot of the traditional stories I
heard from my grandmother and my aunts and my uncles, he says.
pass the time and challenge himself creatively, the Rice would write
fictional stories about depression, alcohol and drug abuse, identity
confusion and other struggles of aboriginal youth in Canada today,
loosely based on some of Rices own experiences and those of
friends and family on Wasauksing.
short stories accumulated into a collection that sat dormant for
more than a decade, until he received a Canada Arts Council grant
in 2004 to develop the work into a book. Through a sweatlodge-style
narrative and setting Rice has tied the best four of his short stories
into a fluent 90-page collection entitled Midnight Sweatlodge, published
in June 2011 by Theytus Books.
October 21, he invites friends, family, former classmates, and book
lovers to join him at the Charles W. Stockey Centre as he reads
from his fiction debut.
to the book has been good so far and hes been asked to do
readings across the country.
an appetite for stories like this, which is really encouraging,
of the stories is centered on an issue or a theme that is unique
to being a young aboriginal person.
explores things like identity crisis, cultural reclamation, depression,
substance abuse, isolation, explains Rice, now 32. Thats
why I wanted to get the book out there to highlight some
of the unique challenges young people face as various aboriginal
groups in this country.
addition to his reading at the Stockey Centre, Rice is hoping to
organize a presentation or workshop at the high school.
Rice left Wasauksing First Nation as a 19-year-old university-bound
student 13 years ago, the local reading is a special stop on his
book launch tour in Canada.
drew inspiration from a lot of the people around here in writing
the stories, he explains. The setting is very unique.
I dont identify the communities in Midnight Sweatlodge as
but theyre very similar geographic make-up here. And of course,
most of my support comes from Wasauksing and Parry Sound communities.
believes the book will appeal to a diverse audience of readers.
wrote it with youth in mind, he explains. So I hope
readers in the younger demographics really relate to it or take
something away from it anybody in their teens up to their
late twenties. But I also wanted to showcase what some of these
unique challenges are to non-native people too. So I hope it gives
people just a little glimpse into what life may be like in some
aboriginal communities in Canada.
describes it as and eye-opener explaining that creating
awareness was a goal.