Controversy continues to follow Canadian author Joseph Boyden. Accusations of similarities between one of his texts and a story by an Ojibway storyteller have now surfaced, barely a month after the authenticity of his indigenous identity came under question.
An article by Jorge Barrera published online by APTN focuses on similarities found in a small book by healer and storyteller Ron Geyshick called Te Bwe Win and a story titled “Bearwalker” that appeared in Boyden’s 2001 short-story collection Born With a Tooth. Boyden denies he copied the story.
The similarities were brought to light by Chuck Bourgeois, a graduate student at the University of Manitoba, who is quoted in the APTN piece. In a draft paper available on the University of Manitoba website, Bourgeois outlines the similar passages, and notes that the story by Geyshick contained details that made his story “unique.”
Boyden, award-winning author of The Orenda and Through Black Spruce, responded to the accusation on Twitter: “I have always been fascinated by the oral stories that travel through communities. I first encountered this one in Fort Albany in the mid-1990s . . . I heard the story again in Moosonee.”
“The point is that Ron Geyshick’s piece is not a story, it’s not a sacred legend. It’s very much is own autobiography and he’s talking very concretely about how he became a medicine person,” said Bourgeois in a phone interview with the Star.
Boyden’s publisher, Penguin Random House, said that the author was in transit on Thursday and was unable to comment.
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