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One Native Life

4.32  ·  Rating details ·  1,238 ratings  ·  162 reviews
In 2005, award-winning writer Richard Wagamese moved with his partner to a cabin outside Kamloops, B.C. In the crisp mountain air Wagamese felt a peace he’d seldom known before. Abused and abandoned as a kid, he’d grown up feeling there was nowhere he belonged. For years, only alcohol and moves from town to town seemed to ease the pain.

In One Native Life , Wagamese look
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published July 22nd 2008 by Douglas McIntyre
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Average rating 4.32  · 
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 ·  1,238 ratings  ·  162 reviews

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Feb 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 21st-century, canada
This is less a memoir, and more a book of meditations -- little sketches of moments in time, with a deep reflection in each one on the measure of one (native) man's life. Wagamese offers some deeply moving and highly emotional observations, without ever once dripping into mawkishness.

There is truth and reconciliation here, in a very real sense. In the past dozen years, that phrase has become so overdone and so hackneyed in our country, that many people tune it out when they hear it. To many, it
Shawn Mooney (Shawn The Book Maniac)
Written in plain but powerful prose and bite-sized chapters, this memoir of an indigenous Canadian writer is one of the most hypnotically calming books I've ever read. I don't go in much for the spiritual side of things, but Wagamese coaxed me there with his meditations on identity, family, music, friends, nature, and joy. I trusted each and every word. ...more
Nov 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Stories are meant to heal. That's what my people say, and it's what I believe. Culling these stories has taken me a long way down the healing path from the trauma I carried. This book is a look back at one native life, at the people, the places and the events that have helped me find my way to peace again, to stand in the sunshine with my beautiful partner, looking out over the lake and the land we love and say – yes.

In the introduction to One Native Life, author Richard Wagamese explains th
On the very very short list of best books I've read this year. These autobiographical glimpses into the author's life bring so much on how we can live and how we can heal. Should be required reading in Canada and the rest of the world for that matter. ...more
A gem!!! Rounded up from 4 1/2 to 5 since heads above the 3 1/2's I've rounded up to 4.

The book is lyrical, deliciously descriptive and very poetic. I wanted to write down many paragraphs in the book and hold them forever in my heart. It is the kind of book you could reread many times. Even just reading a few pages will fill you with a sense of gratitude and wonder as Richard reminds us of all the gifts this planet offers and the simplicity and grandeur of it all. Richard is truly a gifted story
❀ Susan G
Dec 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2016-reads

"I have always wanted to write. There isn't a time I can recall when I didn't carry the desire to frame things, order things upon a page, sort them out, make sense of them. But learning to write was a challenge, an ordeal".
As part of a Secret Santa book exchange, I was thrilled to receive a copy of One Native Life by Richard Wagamese. It is a series of vignettes which form a memoir of his life, giving insight into his challenging childhood and life experie
This is one of those rare stories which moves me so deeply that I have no words to describe the experience.
Jun 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Wagamese's vignettes are like perfect precious little berries, quivering ripely, ready to be plucked and eaten whole. They're poetry, they have a gorgeous breathe-deep rhythm that gets into me and stays there like truth tends to do, vibrating, resonating, being.

John Wagamese, the author's grandfather, "knew the land like an old hymn. It sang through him, wild and exuberant and free". This is what I feel when I read these stories. Like I'm coming to know myself, the words sing through me.
Nov 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this memoir. Almost a surprise, because I came to Richard Wagamese’s published writing by kind of an odd route. He was born in the Canadian province Ontario, and quite a bit of his career life was spent in Central Canada, whereas most of my life has been spent in Canada’s far west. I’m a white guy and, although I’ve read lots about Native Canadians, I’d previously read very little of their literary output; instead, I’ve attended festivals & ceremonies on Native lands, spent time ...more
Jul 27, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: eco
One Native Life is a collection of short memoirs, more like meditations, in which Richard Wagamese explores unity, identity, and healing. At first glance, the entries are simple and direct, like newspaper columns, but they allow Wagamese a freedom to discuss and to connect with whatever he likes. At one point, he describes how much he admired Pierre Trudeau even though he disliked that government's policies towards the First Nations. He has a way of holding on to what he values and of letting go ...more
Feb 15, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook
This book contains a number of short reflections of the author on his life. It has the feel of a local journalist writing in a small town paper about their life. I found the stories interesting as personal reflections, much as I would a favorite local columnist. When I think back on my reading of this, I don't believe it was as focused on portraying a "native life" as I would have assumed from the title. The stories that had the most impact were of the author as a foster child, and the difficult ...more
Wiebke (1book1review)
This was very enjoyable. The audiobook makes it a soothing listening experience. The writing makes it a journey to himself and him finding his identity while also putting things in a broader persepctive by reflection and connecting it to the outside world.
Can recommend.
Apr 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I think it is a book every Canadian should read. A friend wrote a very warm review for this book and that motivated me to read it. And I am glad that I did.
Richard Wagamese was born to residential school survivors who had lost everything they could call their own, including their identity, way of living and confidence. In that they had also lost the basic instinct for caring for their own kids. So, eventually, their two kids were taken away from them. Richard's childhood was spent in foster hom
Beautifully written memoir by Ojibway author, Richard Wagamese. I was expecting more of a typical memoir but I think he was brilliant in how he wrote in segments containing life lessons, spiritual enlightenment and bits and pieces of his life history. I kept waiting to hear the story of how he ended up in foster care and it finally came but not as I expected. I won't tell you anymore than that because I feel that he made creative choices that brings the reader to an understanding of who the auth ...more
Jan 26, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bingo-2017
4.5 stars

This is Richard Wagamese's memoir about the lessons he has learned throughout his life and how they helped him become the person he is today. It is told through a series of vignettes, mostly starting with an observation in his present life, a memory from his past, and a teaching that can be gleaned form the story. Weaved throughout is the telling of his personal story is a great deal of traditional teachings, and historical information.

I would have given it 5 starts, but two things nag
Jun 10, 2013 rated it really liked it
Having come fresh off his book, "Indian Horse", I had to keep reading more material by Richard Wagamese. "One Native Life" did not disappoint. His writing is a joy to experience. The splendid way that he uses language makes me stop mid-story to simply re-read and enjoy his craft. This book is a collection of stories that reflects on many aspects of his life , which without a doubt , has seen great difficulty. How he has been able to maintain his optimism and sense of wonder of this world, in par ...more
Nov 01, 2016 rated it liked it
Wagamese's book of stories about growing up a Native in Canada was insightful. It was a gentle book that was both inspiring and sad, the author put so much feeling into his writing, I could picture each scene perfectly. All the stories were written in first person, and the child told them in such a way that it lightened your spirits, making you want to be there in a way. I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in learning about Native culture or residential schools, or almost any ...more
Sep 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
Richard writes a soulful account of what it is like to face the world when your heritage has been lost. He gives us a series of stories about how he learned to accept and forgive the many problems he faced. He finally found his way home to what it means to be "Indian"and to be at peace with the world.

His words echo truths we all live. It is so sad he is lost to us now. I felt his spirit throughout the book.
Jan 06, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2009
This was a collection of spiritual essays about some of the people, places and things that gave Richard Wagamese hope over the years. Wagamese was a product of the foster system, and suffered a great deal in his early life. So this collection offers hope and reflection for First Nations people.

I found this book to be thoughtful and uplifting, even though it was also very sad.
A book that's given me hope in a time that I haven't felt any. I'll write a review of it later. ...more
Nov 10, 2020 rated it really liked it
"My people say that all things form a circle. Life is a circle that moves from the innocence of childhood and back to it again, in the quiet wisdom of elderhood. The energy we call Great Spirit moves in a great unseen circle around us. That's why the bowl of a ceremonial pipe, a sweat lodge and a Medicine Wheel are round. The circle, they say, is the model of the universe."

I could have read One Native Life in a single day, so graceful and engaging were the 2- or 3-page entries that Richard Wagam
Bill reilly
Aug 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
Everyone can relate to Richard Wagamese’s search for peace and solitude in our modern, frantic world. The internet, particularly social media have separated us more and more from nature each day. Like Thoreau before him, the author attempts to become one with the tranquility of nature. He begins with a simple fishing trip at age six with his first foster father, a kind man named Joe. I am from the same generation and can remember Sunday night TV with Disney, Ed Sullivan and Bonanza. It is amazin ...more
Travis Kendall
Aug 06, 2011 rated it really liked it
Written as a series of short stories this is a very poignant and eloquent story of a First Nation man trying to find meaning, peace, and healing. Very deep at points but remarkably free of anger and resentment even when dealing with an often abusive and tragic past. The other thing that is striking about this book is that for all the obstacles he faced the author seems to have lived a very interesting life, full of travel, adventure, and run ins with famous people. At its heart this is a book ab ...more
Dirk Friesen
Jun 09, 2017 rated it liked it
I started out reading it as if it were a novel but I found myself getting annoyed with the format of the short chapters. After the first couple of chapters I switched reading 1-3 chapters per day. I enjoyed that much more and I think I learned more from it as well.
Mar 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book changed my life - seriously. I am so saddened by Richard Wagamese's passing over the weekend. He was a true storyteller. I will miss his words immensely. ...more
Mar 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: indigenous
Read this if you want your world to be a little brighter.
Nov 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
This is the most beautiful memoir I have ever had the privilege to read!

"This book was born in the hush of mornings." Richard Wagamese "started to see that this one native life, my own, reflected the character, the spirit and the soul of native people all across the country." In a collection of more than 50 brief stories, this brilliant writer reveals memorable glimpses of his 52 years on earth. His theme is joy and contentment.

It starts out with his first hero, and carries on with tales about c
Derek Mitchell
Feb 19, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Reading (listening to) a man’s life is always a journey of soulful reflection. But Wagamese doesn’t allow the horrors of his own history - or that of First Nations people in Canada - to pave over the moments of beautiful re-discovery of his Ojibway identity. History, both personal and political, is certainly acknowledged and told - as it need to be - but always there is an underlying power to his way of framing these tragedies towards personal identity and healing. You’ll hear stories of sharing ...more
Susan Marrier
Nov 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Jane Agosta, Sue Ivany, Mona Chiasson, Brenda Gillespie, Michelle Zapf-Belanger, Peter Marrier
This is a memoire, but far more than a memoire. Having settled on a mountain in British Columbia, near a lake, Wagamese walked to the lake every morning with his dog and wrote about his life and about the lessons he learned and was still learning: the teachings of the elders and of the trees and rocks and other elements of the land, and also the teachings of the very difficult times he faced as a young person growing up far from his home in the north. He could have been bitter, but he managed to ...more
Apr 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I love and admire Richard Wagamese's writing and the man. This memoir is told as non sequential anecdotes. What a hard life he experienced - such pain and yet he is so philosophical about his life journey. Finally he finds peace with his partner as they set up home just outside Kamloops on Paul Lake. The chapters are short and include some past reminiscences and some present experiences or philosophy of life. It is a book you can pick up and read a chapter at a time. I felt at peace every time I ...more
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Richard Wagamese was one of Canada's foremost Native authors and storytellers. He worked as a professional writer since 1979. He was a newspaper columnist and reporter, radio and television broadcaster and producer, documentary producer and the author of twelve titles from major Canadian publishers.


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