The Reason You Walk

The Reason You Walk

Book - 2015
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"A moving father-son reconciliation told by a First Nations broadcaster, musician and activist. When his father was given a diagnosis of terminal cancer, Winnipeg broadcaster and musician Wab Kinew decided to spend a year reconnecting with the accomplished but distant aboriginal man who'd raised him. The Reason You Walk spans the year 2012, chronicling painful moments in the past and celebrating renewed hopes and dreams for the future. As Kinew revisits his own childhood in Winnipeg and on a reserve in Northern Ontario, he learns more about his father's traumatic childhood at residential school. Born to an Anishinaabe father and a non-native mother, Wab Kinew has a foot in both cultures. He is a Sundancer, an academic, a former rapper, a hereditary chief, and an urban activist. His father, Tobasonakwut, was both a beloved traditional chief and a respected elected leader who engaged directly with Ottawa. Internally divided, his father embraced both traditional native religion and Catholicism, the religion that was inculcated into him at the residential school where he was physically and sexually abused. In a grand gesture of reconciliation, Kinew's father invited the Roman Catholic bishop of Winnipeg to a Sundance ceremony in which he adopted him as his brother. Kinew writes affectingly of his own struggles in his twenties to find the right path, eventually giving up a self-destructive lifestyle to passionately pursue music and martial arts. From his unique vantage point, he offers an inside view of what it means to be an educated aboriginal living in a country that is just beginning to wake up to its aboriginal history and living presence. Invoking hope, healing and forgiveness, this is a poignant story of a towering but damaged father and his son as they embark on a journey to repair their family bond. Kinew gives us an inspiring vision for family and cross-cultural reconciliation, and a wider conversation about the future of aboriginal peoples. Wab Kinew is the Associate Vice-President for Indigenous Relations at The University of Winnipeg and a correspondent with Al-Jazeera America. After successfully defending Joseph Boyden's The Orenda on CBC's Canada Reads literary competition, he was named the 2015 host. In 2012, he also hosted the acclaimed CBC-TV documentary series 8th Fire. His hip-hop music and journalism projects have won numerous awards. He is a member of the Midewin. Wab is also an Honourary Witness for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. He lives in Winnipeg with his family"--Provided by publisher.
Publisher: Toronto : Viking, c2015.
ISBN: 9780670069347
Characteristics: 273 p., [8] p. of plates : ill. ; 24 cm.


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Nov 02, 2017

Kinew's book is a must read for Canadians. Those who do not fully understand the deep meaning of Peace and Reconcilation will have their answers in this book. I got my answer and will be able to explain some of its depth to others. I wish I could have the email adress of Kinew to give him my comments and congratulate him on such a comprehensive story with history and feelings. Walk on Buddy! You have been an inspiration for me!

Feb 01, 2017

A shocker to learn about the horror of the residential schools from the experiences of Wab's father. Wake up call for me. Found it a little too personal, too much like a diary, and a hint of superiority, despite all the tragic events - nothing explicit at all in that regard, but something made me not really enjoy it, not really want to keep reading it even though I did.

Dec 22, 2016

An important book for any Canadian to read.

Monika Hans
Sep 02, 2016

A very moving and touching story. It makes you laugh, cry, get angry and can stir up so many emotions. After only three days I'm almost through, which is pretty fast for me since English is my second language. One of the best books I've read in a quite a long time. I also love Wab's writing style and his kind of humor. Hope he'll write another book.

Aug 27, 2016

Given Wab Kinew's skill as a radio and TV communicator and his unquestioned intelligence I found this book disappointing. The writing style is disjointed, his choice of language sophomoric and at times crude. So, literature it is not; but that would be forgivable were it not for his failure to really come to terms with his own failings; he admits to having repeatedly made mistakes but blithely glosses them over as somehow not relevant to the "big picture" the disgraceful mistreatment of First Nations indigenous people throughout the Americas and more specifically in Canada. That is an important story but it tends to get lost in Kinew's meandering tale of his own career. He is at his best when telling the story of his father -- a better man than he.

KateHillier May 29, 2016

I'd never heard of Wab Kinew before he defended Joseph Boyden's novel "The Orenda" for Canada Reads (it later won). I didn't know much else beyond that, and that he hosts Canada Reads now, before I picked this up for book club. It was a fascinating read. It was also an easy and compelling read, which I think is a lot because it is written in much the way he speaks. You can hear him, and the rhythm in his words easily.

Kinew tells his story growing up with his emotionally distant father but he goes back and talks about his father's childhood, including his time in a residential school. Both men make mistakes and have their own troubles, with each other, with alcohol, and with their pasts.

As heavy and depressing as that subject matter is, there is an overall positive tone. A hopeful one as well. Especially in the sections where their culture is being relearned, and being upheld and respected by the current generation and generations to come.

May 08, 2016

People really need to understand that even if the Indian Act was repealed tomorrow, it would not change the dire effects of colonization or the continual racism that is present in many places in society.

I think most of all, there has to be honest, good faith negotiations to settle outstanding issues in relation to the land, resources and shared decision making on First Nations territories.

The most important underlying issue to this is being able to continue our relationship to the land, to exercise our rights on the land, to go to our sacred sites without being interrupted, and to know that developments won't come through the middle of our burial sites.

This is a big picture kind of fix that is needed and First Nations leaders and grass roots people need to be part of the solution and the efforts to prevent suicide.

Our people need hope, they need to see positive changes, and most importantly our young people need to know there is much to live for.

Apr 21, 2016

This is a fascinating and beautiful story about the father-son bond, healing and forgiveness, family and culture. It contains important insight into how Canada can restore the relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people and heal the wounds of the residential school experience.

Apr 18, 2016

A moving account about how a broadcaster and his father were affected by the Aboriginal residential school atrocity ... and what white society can learn from native cultures.

K_ROK Apr 05, 2016

A heartfelt memoir with important stories and events that can change opinions about First Nations culture. Wab's words in the Epilogue were so true about how we need to treat each other with love. Great book for all Canadians to read.

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