Douglas & McIntyre

Interviews with author(s) of “Where the Pavement Ends”

Marie  Wadden

Marie Wadden

May 2008

When Marie Wadden started to organize her book launch at the St. John's Native Friendship Centre, she was worried that no aboriginal people would show up.

"I was worried that ... we'd be all non-aboriginals and we wouldn't be a mixed group," she said, laughing.

She laughs because her fear turned out to be completely unfounded. Both aboriginal and non-aboriginal people - old, young, male, and female - turned out to celebrate the release of the CBC journalist's latest title, Where the Pavement Ends: Canada's Aboriginal Recovery Movement and the Urgent Need for Reconciliation.

Her book boasts a compilation of stories from aboriginal people across Canada who are involved in the aboriginal healing movement.

"In each chapter there is a piece of the puzzle and a piece of the solution," she said. "I think there are a lot of heroes and heroines in aboriginal communities who do not get known in the rest of Canada because we do not celebrate their achievements. We only talk about the problems, rather than the solutions. So, each chapter has a solution and introduces the reader to someone who's making remarkable changes for their people."

Wadden took a 16-month leave from work to travel the country collecting these stories with the aim of piecing together a book that would help people better understand the aboriginal perspective. "One of the people I met while doing my research talked about the profound distance between aboriginal and non-aboriginal Canadians. I think if we bridge that distance, and we move towards understanding each other, then we will know what they need, and we will be able to lobby on their behalf, because they're a minority and they're never going to have enough strength to make politicians change their minds," Wadden said.

"I think that's how change is going to be made in the country - by building relationships between aboriginals and non-aboriginals."

That's why Wadden chose to launch her book on the National Day of Healing and Reconciliation - a grassroots movement designed to commemorate past injustices against Canada's Aboriginal Peoples and to move forward in the spirit of healing and friendship.

To Wadden's delight, that's exactly what happened at her book launch. Members of different aboriginal communities shared their prayers, dances, drumming and songs to a receptive room of people at the Native Friendship Centre. Wadden then read a brief excerpt from her book and opened the floor to other people in the room who wished to share their stories about healing and reconciliation.

Then, when the formalities ended, everyone did exactly what Wadden hoped they would - they mingled.

"I'm really pleased," she said. "There was just such a good mix of people here. I just hope that little seeds were planted that may build."

The Telegram (St. John's) - Sheena Goodyear, May 27, 2008
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