“It’s good to be back at Trent. This school means a lot to me so this like a homecoming of sorts,” Giller Prize-winning author Joseph Boyden told a group of 150 students, faculty, staff and community members who gathered in the Great Hall of Champlain College on September 25 to hear him read from his newest book, The Orenda.
Mr. Boyden, who won the Giller prize for his novel Through Black Spruce, first came to Trent in 2006 as the University’s Margaret Laurence writer in residence fellow and the northern chair lecturer. Since then he has returned to the University on numerous occasions to deliver readings and engage with students. In 2008, his book Three Day Road was selected as the inaugural book for Trent Reads, and in 2012 he completed a week-in-residence as the Trent International Program Jack Matthews Fellow.
“Joseph Boyden has a great love for Trent because of our quintessential Canadian identity and strong Indigenous Studies program,” said Dr. Michael Allcott, head of Champlain College, who welcomed Mr. Boyden to Trent for his most recent book launch. “The friendships he has established here mean that he is utterly at home in our learning community. We were delighted to welcome him back to Trent to celebrate the launch of yet another astonishing, challenging, and inspiring novel.”
Also on hand to welcome Mr. Boyden back to Trent and provide his introduction at the event was Dr. John Wadland, professor emeritus of Canadian Studies at Trent and one of Mr. Boyden’s mentors. Professor Wadland was a consultant reader on the manuscript for The Orenda and advised Mr. Boyden on issues history and culture for the new book.
"Joseph Boyden was born to tell our stories and in these stories he begs us to confront our demons and to acknowledge, like the characters in The Orenda, that we are all flawed," Prof. Wadland said. He went on to describe Mr. Boyden’s newest book as “an extremely complex and often tormenting narrative that takes the reader on an emotional journey through beautiful landscapes where every living thing, every rock, every tree, every animal, every lake, every river, every human carries within itself a soul - an orenda."
Mr. Boyden captivated the audience by reading the first three chapters from The Orenda, and introducing the novel’s three main protagonists - an Iroquois girl, a great warrior and statesman from the Huron nation and a Jesuit missionary. The book is set in the Great Lakes area in the 17th century.
Following the reading, Mr. Boyden fielded a range of questions from the audience on a variety of topics, including his writing methods, thoughts on character development and the importance of research. He also signed books and posed for photographs.
2013/14 Jack Matthews Fellow Announced
While at Trent, Mr. Boyden also helped to announce the University’s new 2013/14 Jack Matthews Fellow, a post that Mr. Boyden himself held last year. Trent University’s Jack Matthews Fellowship was created to honour Jack Matthew’s founding contributions to the Trent International Program, Lakefield College School and the Canadian Canoe Museum.
The 2013/14 Jack Matthews Fellow is CBC Radio host Shelagh Rogers, a friend of Mr. Boyden’s who also interviewed him at a Canadian Canoe Museum event in the evening of September 25. As the new Fellow, Ms. Rogers will spend a week at the University in January.