Lawrence Hill, award-winning Canadian novelist and author of The Book of Negroes, visited two of our book clubs this past month. Hear what Lawrence had to say about the experience:
I had an absolutely fantastic visit with the residents in the Aboriginal Healing Lodges at Kwìkwèxwelhp Healing Village on March 31, and at Okimaw Ohci Healing Lodge for Aboriginal Women on April 5. I'm so very grateful for the opportunity to spend the time with the Indigenous residents, men and women, in the two facilities. Rarely have I felt a volunteer gesture to be more beautiful. As always in these moments with Book Clubs for Inmates, I felt that I received far more than I gave, as a result of the intimate conversations and sharing.
I also appreciated the opportunity to learn a little about Aboriginal Healing Lodges, and their efforts to help Indigenous inmates heal, recover and return in healthy ways to their communities. The staff and volunteers at both healing lodges showed me great kindness. I was showered with gifts that I surely don't deserve: a drum and a carved book and feather from the men at Kwìkwèxwelhp, and a quilt (in which I was wrapped, after smudging) at Okimaw Ohci.
Between the two visits, I told everybody I met in Vancouver about what I was doing, and people were consistently fascinated and impressed by the work of Book Clubs for Inmates. Afterwards, I travelled to the Banff Centre, where I am now, to work intensively on a new novel. Here too in Banff, I'm telling everyone I meet -- including Indigenous artists -- about my visits to Kwìkwèxwelhp and Okimaw Ohci, and about the men and women I came to know there, and about the work of Book Clubs for Inmates.
I will welcome the opportunity to visit with residents in book clubs in other healing lodges and prisons, and I thank you for all the work that you and all of your volunteers do to lift the spirits of people who are trying to sustain their own souls during long periods of imprisonment.