Governor-General award-winning author Darrel J. McLeod is back from a whirlwind tour of North America and will be featured at two events in Sooke in the coming week.
McLeod, the author of Mamaskatch: A Cree Coming of Age, will read from his award-winning memoir at the Sooke Region Museum on Thursday (Sept. 12), between 6:30 and 8 p.m.
The reading is sponsored by the Sooke Region Historical Society and the publishing house of Douglas and MacIntyre with support from the Sooke Arts Council.
“Darrel has been a very popular and much sought-after speaker since the publication of Mamaskatch, so we are very pleased to host him for two events in Sooke,” said Doni Eve, president of Sooke Region Historical Society.
“His work is both entertaining and enlightening; shining a light on his life and on the broader issues facing the First Nations communities across the country.”
McLeod said response to his first memoir has been overwhelming and he’s been surprised at the widespread attention his work has earned.
“The interest has been very diverse. I’ve heard from seniors and Cree elders who have written and, in one case, come to visit me,” McLeod said.
“But I’ve also heard from very young people – people in their teens – who’ve told me my book increased their awareness of the First Nations experience without imparting guilt or blame.”
McLeod said some of the lessons in his memoir transcend the First Nations experience and can be instructive in other areas like gender identity and racial conflicts.
“Some of my experiences and the lessons they teach are applicable in other segments of life. This isn’t just a book about First Nations.”
A second event will take place on Saturday, Sept. 14, between 9:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. at the Sooke Region Museum Pavillion where McLeod will host a memoir writing workshop.
The workshop, sponsored by the Federation of B.C. Writers and Sooke Region Historical Society, will instruct participants on the benefits of journaling as a way of sharing their stories with others.
“Even if you think that you’ve lived a banal life, the truth is that everyone has intriguing, important stories to tell,” McLeod said.
“It’s just a matter of finding your voice, and being authentic and compelling and transferring that into your writing.”
McLeod is in the process of penning a second memoir that will continue his story and provide further insights to issues with which he’s had to grapple and the resolutions he’s found dealing with the challenges of life.
But at the moment the best thing for McLeod is to be back in Sooke.
“I’m super happy doing something local again. I’ve been travelling all over Canada and the U.S. and to have local folks show this interest is just wonderful,” he said.