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Joseph Boyden

Award-Winning Novelist

Joseph Boyden is a nationally and internationally celebrated Canadian writer. His novels have been translated into more than twenty languages and have won numerous prizes, including the Scotiabank Giller Prize. Joseph, an honorary member of the Truth and Reconciliation commission, has dedicated much of his life and his work to Indigenous, youth, and mental health issues. 

New Orleans, Louisiana, United States

Presentations

Joseph will customize a presentation for your audience based on his own personal experiences, writings, learnings and research. 

Awards

2015
Order of Canada

2014
Canada Reads winner The Orenda

2009
CBA Libris Author of the Year
CBA Libris Fiction Book of the Year Award for Through Black Spruce

2008
Scotiabank Giller Prize for Through Black Spruce

2005
McNally Robinson Aboriginal Book of the Year Award for Three Day Road
Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize for Three Day Road


  • The event was fabulous. Joseph is a fabulous speaker, his talk, readings and interactions really resonated with the King’s community. He gave generously of his time, took a sincere interest in everyone he met and he was a real inspiration to the indigenous students who attended his talk.

    - King's University College at Western
  • Joseph exceeded our expectations. I’m so happy with how everything went. The timing was perfect and not for a second did you get the sense that he had to rush out. He gave and extraordinary performance — such an exceptional storyteller and entertainer. He was friendly and approachable — he certainly knows how to please a crowd! The buzz from the group at the end of the evening was so positive.

    - West Vancouver Memorial Library
  • He was a deep and evocative speaker. You could have heard a pin drop in the room during his entire session. His
    message, which was so important to be delivered by him, needed to be heard by everyone in that room. Very powerful
    and emotional.

    - Attendee at Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada event
  • Not only is Joseph Boyden a deliberate speaker his meaningful message will resonate with me for sometime time to come. Man-a-live, I like being challenged as an educator.

    - Catholic Principals' Council of Ottawa
  • Joseph received 3 standing ovations from the delegates. Joseph’s main talk had a tremendous impact on the delegates and he was provided with an additional 15 minutes to take questions and that interaction with the delegates was even better! I have received no shortage of positive comments from AGM delegates, from management, and from my work colleagues.

    - Ontario English Catholic Teachers

Summary Profile

Joseph grew up in Willowdale, Ontario. He is a Canadian of Irish, Scottish and Nipmuc roots. 

As a young child, he was a voracious early reader. When he was six years old, he was making his way through the family’s Encyclopedia Britannica. A few years later he discovered fiction and started to think about a career in writing after reading a book about a group of teenage outcasts.

He grew up with history and myth surrounding him, stories of his father’s war exploits. Joseph’s father goes by the name of Raymond Boyden and he was awarded the highest-decorated medical officer of the war. Joseph loved hearing his father telling him stories about his experience as a Second World War military hero. In the most devastating event that occurred in his early life, his father died when he was only eight years old. This had a profound impact on the trajectory of his life. Joseph’s maternal grandfather as well as an uncle on his father’s side served in the First World War. This has also inspired Joseph to write his first novel Three Day Road.

Most of Joseph’s stories unfold on reserves and examine the joys and tribulations of native life. Over the years Boyden has been absorbing native experience through a kind of osmosis, through physical surroundings, his friendships, and his Anishnabe faith. This immersion in native life may be responsible for the development of the novel’s characters. The common theme in most of his literary works is the inequality of the Native people.  He has a passion to help those Aboriginals who struggle against respect and equality. Joseph has received several awards with the success of his works including the Scotiabank Giller Prize, Rogers Writers Trust Prize, the McNally Robinson Aboriginal Book of the Year Award, and France’s Prix Literaire du Monde. He is a teacher of literature and creative writing.