Memoir as an exploration of place and generational trauma

Guest Speaker Dr. Robert Boschman

On March 28, 2023 CWLC was pleased to host guest speaker Dr. Robert Boschman. Dr. Boschman (read more here), discussed his 2021 autobiography White Coal City. This is the book he has been working on “since he was child”, his life story – and his family’s story – wrapped in the history and culture of rural Saskatchewan.

Photo by weston m on Unsplash

The focal point of White Coal City is “the grandmother he never knew he had”, a grandmother lost tragically young to a senseless accident. The book tells of his experience coming into consciousness as a child becomes an adult – he ends the story in his mid-teen years. He also wanted to tell of the place he grew up in.

Dr. Boschman found he could not tell the story of his grandmother without telling the story of his large Mennonite family. He also wanted to discuss his parent’s loving and thoughtful decision to adopt an Indigenous child, his beloved sister, although this is his story not her story. Overall, he wanted to tell the truth without hurting anyone’s feelings and his parent supported this.

The author read 2 passages from the book. The first told of the moment he discovered his “missing” grandmother in 1970. The second reading told of the adoption of his sister and the bond he quickly formed with her.

Following the readings, Dr. Boschman answered questions from the group about his definition of place, his feelings about the hockey system, inherited trauma, and other topics. The readings and his answers demonstrated his passionate search for truth and healing in his family and in the world.

Shawna M.

Next Tuesday member Margaret S. will present on author Emma Donoghue. Ms. Donoghue is the author of the novel Room and other works.

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