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If you haven’t read our recent interview with Métis author David Bouchard yet, then head on over there right away! In the interview we talked only a little bit about his recent book Seven Sacred Teachings of White Buffalo Calf Woman (More Than Words, 2009), which he co-wrote with Dr Joseph Martin, is stunningly illustrated by Kristy Cameron, and has an accompanying DVD with music by Swampfox, and for which Swampfox created seven flutes out of seven different woods, each in a different key.
David considers Seven Sacred Teachings to be one of his most important works to date. The seven teachings (Humility, Honesty, Respect, Courage, Wisdom, Truth, and Love) are universal to First Nations peoples, and are the strongest link between First Nation, Inuit and Métis communities. Read on to find out more, for in this post David explains in more depth the background to this fascinating and ambitious project, which brought together six languages: English, French, Ojibwe, South Slavey, Bush Cree and Chipewyan.
The Aboriginal people in Canada have had to deal with many negative experiences over the past century and more: but one of the golden, shiny spots from coast to coast in our country is the spirituality that remains intact. If you go into any one of our schools, any school from coast to coast in Canada with Aboriginal kids, you’ll see posters or writings on the walls that refer to these teachings. Different people call them different things. Among the Ojibwe people they’re called the Grandfather Teachings, amongst the Lakota and Dakota people (who used to be called the Sioux), they’re called the teachings of White Buffalo Calf Woman. Among the Dene of the north and their cousins the Navaho in America, they call them the Dene Laws.
But the teachings are very, very constant and I thought it would be wonderful to take those teachings and express them through art and in different languages in a top-quality book. So I started working on the project a few years ago. At around the same time, I came across a young artist, Kristy Cameron, a Métis of Ojibwe descent. I just loved her art, and I talked to her about doing the book with me.
In our culture, there are seven sacred directions – the four of the medicine wheel (East, South, West and North), and then Up, Down and Within our Hearts. Each direction has a teaching associated with it, a colour that we associate with that teaching, and a trait that we associate with the colour; each direction has an animal or a bird that we think of as being representative of that teaching. So I put all of that together and then I said, “Well, if we’re going to do this, we can’t do it on a cd as a cd’s too small, so we’ll have to do it on dvd. So the dvd has me reading the whole book in English and then in French; then it’s read in Ojibwe, Chipewyan, Swampy Cree and in Slavey. Those were the people I was
If you haven’t done so already, be sure to head over to our main PaperTigers site and read our interview with Canadian Métis author and literacy advocate David Bouchard. David has produced more than 35 picture-books for readers of all ages, as well as two guides on reading for parents and educators. An erstwhile teacher and school principal, he is particularly concerned with Aboriginal-related issues and is a sought-after speaker for school presentations and on topics of reading and literacy. Earlier this month David was bestowed with the Member of the Order of Canada , Canada’s highest civilian honor, ” for his contributions as an author of children’s books and an advocate who has championed the cause of reading and writing, and who has shared his pride as a member of the Métis community through his stories.”
Winchester Galleries, located in Victoria, BC, Canada, is currently hosting an exhibition entitled David Bouchard – Our Author and his Collection. Throughout his career, David has worked with over two dozen accomplished artists, the likes of Allen Sapp, Michael Lonechild and Jim Poitras, and has amassed a diverse and interesting collection of fine art. Paintings from David’s collection, as well as autographed copies of his best-selling books will be on exhibit and sale at Winchester Galleries until May 1st. Here’s a video from the opening night:
Yes, this week’s Poetry Friday is here and we’re very excited to be hosting for the first time. Please leave your links in the Comments Section below – I’ll be checking them throughout the day and updating this post.
My offering comes from David Bouchard’s recent book, The Secret of Your Name/ Kiimooch ka shinikashooven (Red Deer Press, 2010). David only found out about his Métis roots relatively recently. In this poem he addresses his Nokum, his Grandmother. There is apology and regret for all that has been lost in the passing years – but there is hope too, because now that he does know, there is still time to discover his heritage and to proclaim it to the world. The beauty of this poem is that it is very personal to David’s own heart but also speaks for many, many Métis today, who did not, or still do not, know of their First Nations blood. And look very carefully at the beautiful cover (although I know it’s hard in a small picture like this) – Dennis J. Weber has drawn together in this one image all the longing, regret and eventual harmony with the past that comes through in the poem.
I’m sorry that I cannot sing
The songs that were passed down to you
The songs you heard your mother sing
The songs that I should own…
I’m sorry but I cannot sing
I did not know so I did not learn
I have yet to hear a single song
Sung by a Chippewa…
But I will go and seek them out
Then teach them to my children [...]
Our family will come to learn
You were a Menominee.
The book comes with an accompanying CD, with narration in English by David and in Michif by Norman Fleury, and with accompanying music, played by David on the flute and the “Master of the Métis Fiddle”, John Arcand. You can listen to the English version, including the insightful Foreward, here, while viewing the stunning illustrations. Our current issue of PaperTigers focuses on Canadian Aboriginal Children’s Literature and features a fascinating interview with David – definitely worth reading!
And now for the feast of verse that is Poetry Friday…
Mary Lee, who is one of those awe-inspiring bloggers posting an original poem throughout this Poetry Month of April, has a beautiful poem today inspired by “something a child said to me at recess” – and it’s already inspired a poetry risposte in her Comments; I’m sure there’ll
On Dec. 30, the Governor General of Canada announced 60 new appointments to the Order of Canada, Canada’s highest civilian honor. Established in 1967, the Order of Canada is the centrepiece of Canada’s honours system and recognizes a lifetime of outstanding achievement, dedication to the community and service to the nation. I was thrilled to hear that Canadian author and literacy advocate, David Bouchard was named as “Member of the Order of Canada for his contributions as an author of children’s books and an advocate who has championed the cause of reading and writing, and who has shared his pride as a member of the Métis community through his stories.”
A former teacher and principal, Bouchard is British Columbia’s best-selling author and single most sought-after public speaker. He has written over 25 best-selling children’s books which have won several prestigious awards, among them: the Governor General’s Award for The Song Within My Heart, the Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award for Voices from the Wild, the Red Cedar Award for The Great Race and the Amelia Frances Howard-Gibbon Award for Illustration for The Dragon New Year. His books have also been short-listed many times for Canada’s most illustrious awards.
Each year David Bouchard travels extensively, championing the cause of literacy to students, parents and educators. During these events, Bouchard shares his perspective: “We do not need new curriculum or harder working teachers in order to get our students to read. We need parents, teachers and administrators who read. The key lies in modeling.” He outlines respective roles and responsibilities that will ensure that all children are given the gift of reading. He inspires and leaves his listeners with a concrete plan and the rejuvenation needed to face literacy issues head on.
“The greatest gift we can give our children is the gift of reading. There is no magic in giving it. There is no toy or program that will do the job for us. It takes time, commitment and most of all, fire. We cannot hope to light a fire in the hearts of others without a fire burning in our own. Light and stoke yours, then spread the flame fast and furious. Let literacy be your legacy.” says David.
On Jan. 21st David will be the keynote speaker for Literiffic Day at my son’s school, an event which I am looking forward to attending!
On a recent brief trip to the beautiful little city of Victoria, on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, I spent some time in the well-stocked children’s book section of the local Chapters Bookstore, where a helpful clerk gave me a quick tour of local favorites, starting with a local resident David Bouchard. Saskatchewan-born, Bouchard has written a couple dozen-plus books for kids, including many award winners and many that reflect his own Metis (the Canadian term for mixed European and Native) origins.
I also took time for a delightful few minutes with Vancouverite Nan Gregory’s Pink, unquestionably a book for the top of the list of every little pink-loving girl (and perhaps her parents as well, with their gender-associated color questions!)
On the shelf with other Canadian favorites was one I recalled from my pre-multicultural southern U.S. childhood, Robert Service’s wonderful poem The Cremation of Sam McGee, in a 2006 re-issue of the 1986 edition with illustrations by painter Ted Harrison. Back in the warm-drowsy long-ago afternoons of my musty Virginia schoolroom, it seemed cautionary tale on complaining about the heat; I wondered at how differently a 21st century Canadian child takes in the story today!
Christmas Mosaic is a treasury of activities and commentaries on Christmas-themed picture books. Cay, author of the hugely popular Catholic Mosaic, has worked her magic again to put together a rich booklist for Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany. More than 80 of the 200 titles have been annotated with recipes, craft ideas, and more.