This paper looks at the work of Richard Wagamese in his book Indian Horse. It looks at the importance of hockey and the challenges that young native men face while playing the game. Hockey had a positive impact on soul’s life. Initially, Richard was a drug addict and nearly died from his last drug intake. Richard ends up in a treatment facility for his drug problem, and remains reluctant to take his medications seriously at the facility. Richard feels that the people around him do not understand his feelings. Deep in him, he was searching for peace. Richard tells his story to the people as a way of seeking comfort and peace. Besides, Richard narrates to the people how people moved his family by force from their home. His parents turned to alcohol, which further weakened the family. His mother tells him stories of his great grandfather who would go through all hardships to ensure the safety of the clan. Saul had great pride in his heritage (Wagamese, 120). After this, Richard ends up in a residential school. Here, his pride for his heritage ended. Richard only found comfort in playing hockey. He had quite a talent in the game.
The school that Saul went to was horrible. Richard gains courage from his parents who were survivors. There were also stories of other people who survived the harsh treatment. Hockey played an important role in Saul’s life because it was his comfort. This was despite all he challenges that he went through. The challenges that Saul and his family faced show the problems that the native people of Canada go through. The book shows the effect of trying to change and wipe out certain humanities. The book also shows the effect this action has and why it is so hard to erase these effects. There is a hint of Saul’s great grandfather in ho he plays hockey.
His great grandfather had the ability to see. Saul has this same characteristic and it helps him prosper in the game (Wagamese, 135). Hockey helped Saul as it encouraged him to work even harder. Richard leant all the necessary skills in hockey. This included passing, shooting, and skating among others. He earned a place among the greatest hockey players. Ironically, he learnt all this on his own. This was usually during his cleaning shifts at the hockey pitch in his residential school.
Saul’s talent catches the eye of a young priest who allows him to play hockey. Hockey gave Saul the chance to appreciate the school system. Hockey gave him the chance to travel and feel equal to the people in the arena (Wagamese, 132). The hockey players formed a brother hood that bound them together through their hockey games. Hockey gave them a joy that they had never experienced before. It gave them a community. They cared for each other and celebrated every win together. They comforted each other through the losses they had.
Saul further illustrates the importance of hockey once he moved away. His life changed for the negative. He no longer had a community (Wagamese, 178). Once outside, he faces a lot of racism. There were previous crimes committed against him in the residential school. All these thoughts engulf him. These factors and other external pressures cause him to turn to alcohol. Hockey brought him a lot of joy. Once he stopped playing it, he went back to the ruthless word that causes him a lot of pain.
There are various strengths and limitations as young native men play and experience the game in Ontario. Hockey enables these young people to have a community as in the case of Saul. It provides comfort to these young men. Saul went through so many hardships (Wagamese, 129). He had a difficult childhood. However, he was able to find peace through hockey. Hockey plays the same function among the young men. It brings them hope. The indigenous people of Canada underwent serious discrimination. People had attitudes of racism, which led them to try to subdue the natives. The people even went as far as outlawing the religion of the indigenous people. They sought to destroy their cultures and their way of life. This had a serious impact on the native people. They weakened the native people(Wagamese, 136). They relocated the natives and treated them harshly.
Considering the background, hockey has various positive effects for young people playing it. First, hockey is one of the things that Canada prospers in as a country. Currently, Canada has a great variety of cultures. There are people from different races, religions, and ethnicities in Canada. Hockey presents a chance to unify all these people. Through hockey, the young men are able to mingle with people from different cultures in Canada. It further gives them a chance to prosper, as the living standards of the native people in Canada are lower than the rest of the people.
Young native people playing hockey in Canada stand to face various challenges. First, they face the challenge of inequality. These native people have lower standards as compared to other people and lack equal opportunities. They face the challenge of inequality in various levels in their lives. They have lower chances of attending school, hence lower graduates. This translates to high unemployment levels. They also have a lower life expectancy. This kind of suffering is a limitation to the young native people-playing hockey. After practicing, they go back to the horrible life of inequality.
Many people still blame racism for the challenges that native people undergo in Canada. There are people who believe that to build powerful states; the powerful groups mostly take advantage of the weaker groups. This selfish misconception faces the natives in Canada. Even with successful chances of playing hockey, the native boys may face discrimination while training with other people. They might receive different treatment as compared to the other people from different ethnic backgrounds.
Children in residential schools undergo a lot of discrimination. Such children cannot identify with their cultures. People created the schools to deter such children from the influence of their families. They have no stable background. These schools seek to assimilate them to the accepted modern Canadian culture. In the case of Saul, his heritage helped him prosper in hockey. People with no sense of belonging have less reason to work hard.
These native boys will find it hard to mingle with the rest of the players. It is hard for them to form a sense of community with people who discriminate them. However, experiencing hockey gives them the hope of a better tomorrow. It brings about a sense of equality as all the players play in the same court. Playing hockey gives the young men a hope that one day they will be free of the discrimination that they face. It gives them a chance to feel equal to the rest of the people around them.
Wagamese, Richard. Indian Horse, Canada: Douglas & McIntyre: 2012, 120-178