Award-winning Canadian novelist Joseph Boyden was at St. Clement’s School in early February to speak with CIS Ontario English teachers about their favourite Can Lit books for teaching and how they are used within the context of courses, divisions, and years. It was a tremendous pleasure to have award-winning author Joseph Boyden on hand to share in this discussion to add his own thoughts on the shifting voice(s) of Can Lit and his own experiences as a reader and writer.
After the meeting and social, which allowed mingling while enjoying food and drinks, Joseph Boyden treated our seventy CIS Ontario teachers to readings from his novels Three Day Road, Black Spruce and The Orenda. His first novel, Three Day Road, won the Amazon/Books in Canada First Novel Award and the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize. His second novel, Through Black Spruce, won the 2008 Scotiabank Giller Prize, and his third book, The Orenda was named the winner of the 2014 edition of Canada Reads.
Hailing from a large family of teachers, and currently a teacher himself, Joseph spoke candidly about his experiences as a troubled youth. From the Powell Hall podium, he passionately imparted an important message: teachers have their finger on the pulse of the student body, and they are often the closest to them when they are in need. Teachers need to remind students that failing is okay, and that there is a supportive faculty available if they need help.
Another important takeaway from Joseph’s talk was the importance of recognizing and celebrating Canada’s aboriginal history, and engaging actively in the community. Joseph is also currently raising awareness of Camp Onakawana, which is an aboriginal camp that seeks to help young people connect with their heritage by teaching them how to catch fish, bead and sew moccasins, hunt and trap animals, and other traditional tasks.
Attendees had the opportunity to meet Joseph after the talk during a book signing. Thanks to SCS English Teacher Claire Pacaud for providing fellow English teachers with the opportunity to listen to Joseph speak and to meet this talented and inspirational Canadian author!