“If you want to be a storyteller, it has to come from your heart. I tell stories to make my family proud and also to quietly educate people.”
Joseph Boyden’s first novel, Three Day Road, caused a sensation even before it was published in 2005. Chosen by Isabel Allende for the Today Show Book Club, it won the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize, McNally Robinson Aboriginal Book of the Year Award, Amazon first Novel Award, and many others. Shortlisted for the Governor General’s Award, Three Day Road is an international bestseller, translated into 20 languages.
His second novel, Through Black Spruce, was awarded the Scotiabank Giller Prize in 2008 and was named the Canadian Booksellers Association Fiction Book of the Year, while Joseph was named Author of the Year.
His third novel, The Orenda, won CBC’s Canada Reads competition and France’s prestigious Prix Littéraire Monde, Étranger Award. An international bestseller, it’s being developed as a mini-series with FX, Sony, and executive producer Robert Redford.
His novels’ vivid evocation of Indigenous lives in the extremities of the first World War, 17th century colonization, and contemporary reserves have brought hidden stories to light, and helped open dialogues.
Boyden also devotes time to teaching. He began with the Aboriginal Student Program at Northern College in northern Ontario and continues to teach at UBC and the Institute of American Indian Arts.
Boyden recently addressed violence against Indigenous women, editing Kwe: Standing With Our Sisters, an anthology featuring Margaret Atwood, Tanya Tagaq, and many others. He wrote the haunting story for Going Home Star – Truth and Reconciliation, the Royal Winnipeg Ballet’s acclaimed production.
He is an advocate for those who suffer depression by publicly speaking about his own struggles, guided by the words of his wife Amanda: “Write about it Joseph. Speak out loud. Not for yourself, but for these kids. If one kid hears this message it will make a difference.”