(picture of Richard Wagamese)
I had the honor of spending time doing charitable work with a 22-year-old Kamloops man, Billy Davy. He was raised spending time with the late Richard Wagamese, an Ojibway author most recognized by his book -and soon to be movie- called ‘Indian Horse’.
Here are Billy’s intimate, life-altering memories of his time spent with Richard:
“I met Richard when I was around 14 or 15 years old. I was a respite kid spending my weekends up at Paul Lake where he lived with his wife at the time, Debra. My respite parents, let’s call them Fred and Chloe, always dragged me and my foster brothers to these Friday night soirees that Richard and Debra hosted.
Richard was many things to a lot of people, but to me he was goofy, young at heart, and full of wisdom.
I mostly saw him at the soirees, but over time my foster brothers and myself would go over there to just hang out. Richard and Debra always had snacks for us. We would sit while Richard told us one of his many stories from his youth.
One time on a Father’s Day, my brothers and I went up to his house and just started singing. It wasn’t long until the door opened and Richard came out, dancing away to our terrible rendition of some classic rock song.
Richard encouraged us to sing. He encouraged us to play instruments, write poetry or short stories, and to bring our talents to the soiree.
Every Friday, he’d host a potluck and a talent show. I didn’t understand at the time that he was a famous man with a lot of friends. People from all over would come and perform on those nights. Both professionals and amateurs gathered to sing and listen to stories.
Richard taught me to be creative. He told me that art has no rules. He kindled my love for singing and composing songs and poetry, and as a final lesson, in his passing, he taught me to enjoy reading.
After his passing, I went to the library and picked up one of his books for the first time, ‘The Next Sure Thing’. His words leapt off the page and I swear I could hear his voice narrating the story; I cried the whole way through.
I didn’t know him after he left Paul Lake as I left about a year prior. I only have fond memories of him, my respite parents, and my two foster brothers.
Thank you. Kukwstémc, Richard Wagamese, may your spirit find happiness.”
Billy Davies is a bright young man who, because of his time spent with Richard Wagamese, now carries thick novels under his arm everywhere he goes. He is hoping to take a Human Services program at TRU. He has a talent for fixing things and freely gives his time helping others.
(picture of Billy Davy)