Adapted from Richard Wagamese’s award-winning novel, Stephen Campanelli’s moving drama sheds light on the dark history of Canada’s residential schools and the indomitable spirit of our nation’s indigenous peoples.
In late 1950s Ontario, seven year-old Saul Indian Horse (Sladen Peltier; Forrest Goodluck and Ajuawak Kapashesit portray him as teenager and adult) is torn from his Ojibway family and committed to one of Canada’s notorious Catholic residential schools. In this oppressive environment, Saul is denied the freedom to speak his language or embrace his indigenous heritage and he witnesses all kinds of abuse at the hands of the very people who were entrusted with his care. Despite this, Saul finds salvation in the unlikeliest of places and favourite Canadian pastimes—hockey.
Fascinated by the game, he secretly teaches himself how to not only play but develops a unique and rare skill. It is as if he has eyes in the back of his head and can see the game in a way no other player can. His talent leads him away from the misery of the school to a Northern Ontario native league and eventually the pros. But the ghosts of Saul’s past will always haunt him. Forced to confront painful memories and revelations, Saul draws on the spirit of his ancestors and the understanding of his friends to gain the compassion he so sorely needs in order to begin healing.
Indian Horse is a survivors’ tale that foregrounds the indomitable spirit of North America’s indigenous peoples in the face of aggressive assimilation policies and racism. Saul Indian Horse’s story can be a tool to help foster further compassion and understanding, and in the process, become universal.
“The essence and importance of [Richard] Wagamese’s book—both the brutality and the beauty—shines through, more vital than ever.” (Mark Medley, Globe & Mail)
“Indian Horse endures, and commands attention.” (Peter Howell, Toronto Star)