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Publisher's Summary

A moving father-son reconciliation told by a charismatic First Nations broadcaster, musician, and activist.

When his father was given a diagnosis of terminal cancer, Winnipeg broadcaster and musician Wab Kinew decided to spend a year reconnecting with the accomplished but distant aboriginal man who'd raised him. The Reason You Walk spans the year 2012, chronicling painful moments in the past and celebrating renewed hopes and dreams for the future. As Kinew revisits his own childhood in Winnipeg and on a reserve in Northern Ontario, he learns more about his father's traumatic childhood at residential school.

An intriguing doubleness marks The Reason You Walk, a reference to an Anishinaabe ceremonial song. Born to an Anishinaabe father and a non-native mother, he has a foot in both cultures. He is a Sundancer, an academic, a former rapper, a hereditary chief, and an urban activist. His father, Tobasonakwut, was both a beloved traditional chief and a respected elected leader who engaged directly with Ottawa. Internally divided, his father embraced both traditional native religion and Catholicism, the religion that was inculcated into him at the residential school where he was physically and sexually abused.

In a grand gesture of reconciliation, Kinew's father invited the Roman Catholic bishop of Winnipeg to a Sundance ceremony in which he adopted him as his brother. Kinew writes affectingly of his own struggles in his 20s to find the right path, eventually giving up a self-destructive lifestyle to passionately pursue music and martial arts. From his unique vantage point, he offers an inside view of what it means to be an educated aboriginal living in a country that is just beginning to wake up to its aboriginal history and living presence.

Invoking hope, healing and forgiveness, The Reason You Walk is a poignant story of a towering but damaged father and his son as they embark on a journey to repair their family bond. By turns lighthearted and solemn, Kinew gives us an inspiring vision for family and cross-cultural reconciliation, and a wider conversation about the future of aboriginal peoples.

Number-one Globe and Mail nonfiction best seller

A Toronto Star nonfiction best seller

Finalist for the RBC Taylor Prize

Shortlisted for the Ontario Library Service North 2017 Louise de Kiriline Award for Nonfiction

©2015 Wab Kinew (P)2017 Penguin Canada

What the critics say

"Witness the thrilling rise of not only a First Nations star but a Canadian one. The Reason You Walk points the way toward a new era of reconciliation and redemption - and shows us how a man who's anchored by his language, his culture and his family is unstoppable." (Joseph Boyden, author of The Orenda)
"Brutally honest, original, funny, uncomfortable, and compelling." (RBC Taylor Prize Jury Citation)
"This book combines Kinew's disarming personality and his willingness to share highly personal material - in this case, the life and death of his father, Tobasonakwut - to demonstrate the immense power of family and forgiveness as tools of reconciliation.... This is not just a memoir, it's a meditation on the purpose of living." ( The Globe and Mail)

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Seeing a New Side of Colonialism

Read this book twice, and skimmed through it again last month - Absolutely loved it! Each time I read it, I see something new in Kinew's memoir that enlightens and surprises me.

Wab Kinew paints an incredible story of his and his father's life experiences. As a colonial Canadian, this memoir provided me rare insight into First Nations culture, knowledge, and perspectives. The abhorrence of residential school, intergenerational trauma, and continuing racism in mainstream Canadian society are present in this story. However, Kinew masterfully presents these terrible moments as apart of a larger, uplifting storyline of healing and reconciliation.

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Beautiful story told by the author

What a beautiful story of love, family and learning about the pain of residential schools and how brave the victims were. It’s also about family, tradition, healing and courage. It’s lovely hearing the language spoken and sung by the author as well. Highly recommend this book to every Canadian. I hope we all can learn about honouring our loved ones from this book.

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A great informative read.

This book has made a difference in my knowledge of the past indigenous experience and the current discussions of reconciliation. Well worth the time.

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A beautiful story of reconciliation

I cannot express how beautiful this story is. As a white woman whose grandmother was a dorm parent in a residential school, this book has provided me with much healing in my own journey toward reconciliation. Wab’s beautiful perspective and patient teaching on his father’s story provides a depth and richness to the various university courses and personal stories/rallies/news articles I’ve seen along the way. Thank you for writing this book.

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Interesting

Definitely recommend! I listened in one day but would be okay to asked out over a few days.

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beautiful

an incredible listen, soulful and passionate. I feel luck to have listened to the author read from his own book.

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must read for everyone

Wab Kinew narrates this incredible, insightful book about his reason for walking, inviting us to do the same. It is full of wisdom and teachings that he shares openly to us all. I am a non-native Sundancer and first generation settler of european parents and have children whose father is Dene. This book has helped in understanding their father who was put in residential school in Alberta and has suffered greatly with the trauma from those experiences and the racism and oppression that has continued throughout his life.
With much gratitude - Pilamyayelo

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Excellent book

I thoroughly enjoyed this book from beginning to end. I admired the honesty and openness of the author. I also learned a lot about Indigenous culture and history in Canada. Listening to the author read his book on Audible made the story feel very personal. Excellent book!

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excellent listen

easy to listen and follow along. kept myself captivated throughout the whole story. 💯loved it

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excellent

must read for everyone
good book for highschool program
my daughter recommended
iam glad i took her recommendation

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  • mindyop
  • 2021-10-18

Gorgeous

This is a Gorgeous and informative book! Thank you so much for writing it! Much appreciated

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  • Missy
  • 2020-03-19

Amazingly life changing!!

Words can not express how this book has given me new perspective to us as indigenous people. Ahehee