With compassion and insight, author Richard Wagamese traces through his fictional characters the decline of a culture and a cultural way in Northern Ontario. For Saul, being taken from the land and family and sent to residential school per Canadian Law. Saul finds salvation through his incredible gifts as a hockey player.
With the harsh realities of 1960s Canada, Saul battles racism and the spirit-destroying effects of cultural alienation and displacement. The novel centers on Saul Indian Horse, a First Nations boy who survives the Indian residential school system. Saul has hit rock bottom, with his last binge almost killing himself. Now we find him reluctantly in a treatment center for alcoholics, with people he swears will not understand what he's been through.
Throughout his experience he finds peace through sharing his story, where we as the readers begin to embark on through the life of a norther Ojibway. Throughout his joys and sorrows we see Saul grow up on his journey to self-awareness and self-acceptance, taking the reader along so that his painfully-grained insights also become the reader's.
Speaking at Irving K. Barber Learning Centre in British Columbia, Richard Wagamese tells the story of a man whose life is drastically changed by one of Canada's most painful histories, the Indian Residential School System set in place during the 1800s to the 1990s. From 5:00-8:46 of the video, Wagamese speaks on his process of choosing the narrative on hockey and aboriginal people for Indian Horse. The two motifs of Canada many identify with, bringing the importance of their history to life from Saul's story.