Feeding the fire – Author Joseph Boyden speaks to DHS students about finding their passion

Critically acclaimed Canadian author Joseph Boyden speaks to Dryden High School students last week. Photo by Sarah McCarthy

By Sarah McCarthy

Canadian author and champion of Indigenous peoples Joseph Boyden spoke to high school students in Dryden last week about inspiration, overcoming depression and finding purpose and passion.

Boyden used the concept of the ‘ember’ to explain how surrounding ourselves with good people and nurturing our gifts can turn the smallest spark of talent into something much greater.

“I use it as a metaphor for young and older people too, about that idea that we all have something that’s a gift in us that only we possess in that way,” said Boyden. “Always protect the fire in you, don’t let others extinguish you. We have to protect that and nurture it and feed it so it burns hot.”

The ‘Three Day Road’ and ‘Wenjack’ authour was in the area last week to speak. Boyden spent a few days in Wabigoon Ojibway First Nation along with other speakers for “Manachtoon Kibimatisiwin” which translates to the “Take Care of Your Life” program. Boyden mentions he has ties to the area with an old friend, Donna Chief. Boyden joined a group of inspiring presenters to talk with youth from First Nations and start a conversation about residential schools and Canadians coming together in reconciliation.

At DHS Boyden talked about not only his novels but also his earlier years in life growing up with seven sisters, eleven siblings in total between Toronto, Ontario and Georgian Bay. His love and knack for story writing began when Boyden was in his early teens while he was overcoming depression and has since continued on with his passion to date. Boyden also has some musical skills with the harmonica; he played a few tunes for students to enjoy throughout his speech. The author’s value of family, elders and taking the time to listen to those close to you played a very important part in his presentation and stories. Boyden finds inspiration for his stories in others, not himself.

“Just wanting to tell those stories, it’s almost the stories found me rather than me found them.”

After receiving several awards for his books, including the Amazon Award for Best First Novel for “Three Day Road” Joseph Boyden has a new novel hitting the bookshelves this September called “7 Matches.”

Boyden has been working on this one for a while and said that it does take him quite a while to write his stories and piecing together everything he wants to convey within them. It’s all about the characters, the people that come to him as an inspiration throughout his writing process and wanting to do justice by their story.

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