Award-winning author Richard Wagamese remembered for his kind, strong spirit

By Vanessa Ybarra
March 11, 2017 - 8:59am Updated: March 11, 2017 - 2:08pm

KAMLOOPS — Award-winning author and journalist Richard Wagamese has died.

According to long-time friend Shelagh Rogers, Wagamese died in the Kamloops area Friday, with the cause of death still unknown. 

The First Nations writer wrote more than a dozen novels based off of his own experience as a descendant of Indian Residential School survivors and living in more than 15 foster homes growing up. 

While it was Rogers and Wagamese's love of books that led to their 25-year friendship, the Gabriola Island resident says it's his kind, strong spirit she'll miss the most. 

"Despite what he'd been through, he had this enormous ability to love people," said Rogers. "He never tried to hide that. I think people were drawn to him because they could sense that."

Wagamese won numerous awards throughout his career, including the 2013 Burt Award for First Nations, Métis and Inuit Literature for the 2012 novel 'Indian Horse' that's currently being made into a movie.

Wagamese also contributed a weekly editorial years ago at CFJC News called 'One Native Life'. 

Despite his accolades, Wagamese had his demons.

"He had some terrible abuse while he was in care," said Rogers. "I think there were memories he tried to push down but they surfaced. It was very hard for him to deal with that pain. He wrote openly about his battle with alcohol, and I think by him writing he helped a lot of people because he was so honest about his struggle."

Wagamese leaves behind two sons.

He was 61. 

Poor visibility causing numerous delays at Kamloops Airport