David A. Robertson on What Inspired His Story “Peggy” in This Place: 150 Years Retold

David A. Robertson

David A. Robertson is the author of “Peggy”, a story in the anthology This Place: 150 Years Retold. The story features illustrations and colour art by Natasha Donovan. In his author statement below, David shares why he chose to focus on Francis Pegahmagabow – the most effective sniper of World War I, as well as a respected Indigenous rights activist – and what he hopes readers will gain by reading “Peggy”.

My work has often focused on representation—on how Indigenous Peoples now, and in the past, have been portrayed in literature. I also strive to find Indigenous heroes who have been underrepresented in literature. Often, I have used comics, an art form that spans all genres, and reaches all ages, genders, and cultures. I’ve known about Francis Pegahmagabow for years, on a surface level. I knew that he was one of the most effective snipers in history, but I wanted to know more about him, and I thought it was important for Canadians to know more as well. Drawing on several texts, including Brian McInnes’ excellent Sounding Thunder, I learned about Francis “Peggy” Pegahmagabow the man, and the effectiveness of his work that extended beyond the battlefield.

Comics are engaging and powerful. Much like Francis himself. But, as with this story, they often serve as an introduction, and it is up to the reader to continue the learning. There is so much more to Peggy, up to his retirement as Supreme Chief of the National Indian Government in 1950, and into his later life. The nuances, struggles, and victories are fascinating, and I hope this text catapults you into that life, and the teachings we can draw from it.

Ekosani,
David A. Robertson

 

 

 


"Peggy" in This Place Retold by David A. Robertson and Natasha DonovanLearn about other Indigenous veterans with the Indigenous War Heroes Project: http://indigenouswarhero.org.

Read David A. Robertson’s take on the story of Francis “Peggy” Pegahmagabow in This Place: 150 Years Retold.


 

Explore the past 150 years through the eyes of Indigenous creators in this groundbreaking graphic novel anthology. Beautifully illustrated, these stories are a wild ride through magic realism, serial killings, psychic battles, and time travel. See how Indigenous peoples have survived a post-apocalyptic world since Contact.

Featuring Stories By: Kateri Akiwenzie-Damm, Sonny Assu, Brandon Mitchell, Rachel and Sean Qitsualik-Tinsley, David A. Robertson, Niigaanwewidam James Sinclair, Jen Storm, Richard Van Camp, Katherena Vermette, and Chelsea Vowel

Illustrated By: Tara Audibert, Kyle Charles, GMB Chomichuk, Natasha Donovan, Scott B. Henderson, Ryan Howe, Andrew Lodwick, and Jen Storm

Colour By: Scott A. Ford and Donovan Yaciuk

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This is one of the 200 exceptional projects funded through the Canada Council for the Arts’ New Chapter program. With this $35M investment, the Council supports the creation and sharing of the arts in communities across Canada.

 

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Celebrating “I Love to Read Month” with a contest!

February is just around the corner, which means national “I Love to Read Month” is almost here!

For many Canadian educators, “I Love to Read Month” is an opportunity to promote a love of reading and being read to by others. It’s also a great opportunity to explore titles relating to the TRC’s Calls to Action, and to delve into thought-provoking works by Indigenous authors.

One of the titles we’re most excited about is This Place: 150 Years Retold. This graphic novel anthology explores the past 150 years through the eyes of Indigenous creators, including Governor General Award–winning writers Katherena Vermette and David A. Robertson, as well as Jen Storm, Niigaanwewidam James Sinclair, Richard Van Camp, Brandon Mitchell, and more!

These beautifully illustrated stories use magic, psychic battles, serial killings, and even science fiction and time travel to explore Indigenous perspectives and provide new opportunities to think about history.

This Place Retold 2019Enter Our “I Love to Read Month” Twitter Contest

Are you an educator interested in using this groundbreaking anthology in your classroom? Then don’t miss our Twitter contest for your chance to win a classroom set of This Place: 150 Years Retold.

All you need to do is follow us @PortageandMainPres and take the following actions:

  • Retweet the original post, to be published on February 4, 2019.
    (*We will pin it to the top of our feed!)
  • Retweet each new contest post as many times as you’d like – the more you retweet, the more chances you have to win!

The contest runs from February 4-15, 2019, so make sure to stay glued to our Twitter profile for your chance to retweet multiple contest posts and increase your chances of winning. (*See additional contest details at the bottom of the blog post.)

Books That Are Perfect for the Classroom

Are you looking for new books to explore with your class during “I Love to Read Month”? Then don’t miss these other great titles from the authors and contributors of This Place: 150 Years Retold:

FireStarters_webFire Starters

By: Jen Storm
Illustrated by: Scott B. Henderson
Colour by: Donovan Yaciuk
For: Grades 7-12

After Ron and Ben discover an old flare gun, they suddenly find themselves in trouble when the local gas bar on Agamiing Reserve goes up in flames, and they are identified as the culprits by the local sheriff’s son.

As the investigation progresses and the truth of what happened slowly comes to light, hidden attitudes held by community members are revealed.
Order your copy of Fire Starters today.

The Reckoner Trilogy

By: David A. Robertson
For: Grade 7 to adult

The Reckoner is a series by David A. Robertson,  an award–winning writer and author of Governor General’s award-winning children’s book When We Were Alone.

Strangers_web  Monsters (1)  Ghostsa_web (1)

Currently the first two instalments, Strangers and Monsters are available:

Strangers
The Reckoner Trilogy, Book 1

When Cole Harper returns to Wounded Sky First Nation after 10 years, he finds his community in chaos:  series of shocking murders, a mysterious illness ravaging the residents, and reemerging questions about Cole’s role in the tragedy that drove him away 10 years ago.

Cole is aided by his two oldest friends, a disfigured ghost, and an unhelpful spirit as tries to figure out his purpose and unravel the mysteries he left behind… but will he find the answers in time to save his community?
Order your copy of Strangers today.

Monsters
The Reckoner Trilogy, Book 2

In book two of The Reckoner Trilogy, Cole struggles to settle into life at Wounded Sky First Nation. He may have stopped a serial killer, the community still needs his help: the health clinic is mysteriously on lockdown, a creature lurks in Blackwood forest, and hidden secrets are starting to surface about Cole’s parents’ disappearance.
Order your copy of Monsters today.

Ghosts
The Reckoner Trilogy, Book 3

In book three, due to be released May 1, 2019, Mikho Laboratories has re-opened its research facility and is working to manufacture the disease that first plagued Wounded Sky. The community is quarantined. Will it be saved? This is the final instalment in David A. Robertson’s trilogy, and is sure to answer all of your questions left from Monsters.
Pre-order your copy of Ghosts today.

ManitowapowManitowapow
Aboriginal Writings from the Land of Water

Edited by: Niigaanwewidam James Sinclair and Warren Cariou
Foreword by: Beatrice Mosionier
For: Grade 11 to adult

Manitowapow is a collection of stories, poetry, speeches, and nonfiction perfect for the classroom. Explore historical writings from important figures, nonfiction from contemporary Indigenous leaders, stories from local storytellers and keepers of knowledge from far-reaching communities, and Anishinaabe, Cree, Dene, Inuit, Métis, and Sioux writers from Manitoba.
Order your copy of Manitowapow today.


Three_FeathersThree Feathers

By: Richard Van Camp
Illustrated by: K. Mateus
For: Grades 9—12

This title, the third in The Debwe Series, explores the power and grace of restorative justice and the power of a multi-generational cultural legacy through one Northern community.

After vandalizing their community, three young men – Bryce, Flinch, and Rupert – are sent by the community Elders to live on the land for nine months as part of the circle sentencing process. There, the young men learn to acquire humility and take responsibility for their actions… but will they be forgiven for what they’ve done when they return home?
Order your copy of Three Feathers now.

The graphic novel is available in the Cree, Chipewyan, and Slavey languages. To place an order, please contact customer service at 1-800-667-9673.

Red River Resistance

PemmicanWars_Final (1)  Echo_RRR_cover-e1531426289135 (1)

A Girl Called Echo, Vol. 2

By: Katherena Vermette
Illustrated by: Scott B. Henderson
Colour by: Donovan Yaciuk
For: Grades 5—9
Red River Resistance is the second instalment in the A Girl Called Echo series, and picks up where the first book, Pemmican Wars, left off.

In this instalment of the gripping graphic novel series from Katherena Vermette, we follow Echo as she struggles to fit into her new home, and as she is pulled back again and again into the past, to the banks of the Red River circa 1869.

As Echo learns about Métis history in the present-day, she witnesses as the Métis members of the Red River Colony, who have lived along the riverbanks for centuries, protest against the Canadian surveyors who are selling their land out from under them. As the protests go from peaceful to violent, Echo finds herself fearing for her friends and for the future of her people in the Red River Valley.
Order your copy of A Girl Called Echo Vol. 2: Red River Resistance.
Order your copy of A Girl Called Echo Vol 1: Pemmican Wars.


What are you most excited to read during national “I Love to Read Month”?
Tell us on
Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram!

Can’t wait for a copy of This Place: 150 Years Retold for your classroom? Pre-order your copy today.


CCA_NewChapter_logo_transparent-eThis Place: 150 Years Retold is one of the 200 exceptional projects funded through the Canada Council for the Arts’ New Chapter program. With this $35M investment, the Council supports the creation and sharing of the arts in communities across Canada.

 

 


“I Love To Read Month” Twitter Contest Rules

  • Contest is open to Canadian and US residents.
  • Teachers, educators, principals, or school officials are eligible for the contest prize.
  • Contest runs February 4, 2019 – February 15, 2019, 11:59 p.m. CST.
  • Winners announced February 18, 2019.
  • Prizes will be shipped after May 1, 2019.
  • This contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed, or administered by, or associated with, Twitter.
  •  By entering, entrants confirm they are 18+ years of age, release Twitter of responsibility, and agree to Twitter’s term of use.
  • Any attempt by any participant to obtain more entries by using multiple and/or different identities, Twitter accounts, registrations, email addresses, logins, or any other methods will void that participant’s entries, and that participant may be disqualified.
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Interview with Dr. Pamela Rose Toulouse author of Truth and Reconciliation in Canadian Schools

Dr. Pamela ToulousePamela Rose Toulouse, Ph.D., is an Anishinabekwe (Ojibwe/Odawa woman) from Sagamok First Nation. Currently, she is an associate professor in the Faculty of Education at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario. She has 25 years of diverse experience throughout the elementary to postsecondary education continuum, and a 3M National Teaching Excellence Fellow. She is also the author of Truth and Reconciliation in Canadian Schools.

In her book, Pamela Rose Toulouse explores residential school history, treaty education, Indigenous contributions, First Nation/Métis/Inuit perspectives and sacred circle teachings for teachers looking to respectively infuse these topics into their subjects and courses.

In your acknowledgments, you mention that your grandmother was a survivor of the residential school system, as well as one of the greatest influences of your life. How has she inspired the writing of your book?
This book came from my admiration and love for my grandmother. She was more than a survivor of residential school. She didn’t allow those experiences to define her, but shared her stories to compel me to be a better person. When I was doing my doctoral research, I interviewed her about residential school and was horrified at what she went through. She shared what happened to her and did not give away her personal power to those atrocities. People that knew my grandmother knew she told it like it was, always. Her honesty was harsh, but she was true to herself. I really am the luckiest person to have had Madonna Toulouse as my grandmother. Her humour and unique spin on life still inspire me today.

In 2018, you participated in the professional learning event Truth and Reconciliation in Every School: What we know, what we don’t know, and what we need to do to move forward respectfully. How do events such as this connect to the relationship building that you facilitate in your book?
Relationships are the foundation of truth and reconciliation. I participate in many events and professional development sessions to model the building of bridges based on compassion and action. I share my own stories, so people can relate at an emotional level first. They need to have a heart to mind connection to really get truth and reconciliation. Everyone can relate to being either a mother, father, auntie, uncle, cousin, or another familial role. Everyone can relate to feeling pain or happiness for a loved one. My participation in events is essential to humanizing what was dehumanizing. These messages plant that seed for participants to engage in action.

How does Truth and Reconciliation in Canadian Schools help teachers to deliver on the TRC Calls to Action?
Every chapter has the specific education for the reconciliation Call to Action that is being addressed. This was absolutely critical to establishing the relevance of this book. It was really important that I honour my grandmother by doing my part. This book is my response to the TRC and honouring my grandmother. The history of residential schools, treaties and other aspects of our communities need to be shared. Every Canadian has a responsibility (whether they know it or not) to be a part of social change based in truth and reconciliation. The time is now and this book is only a small part of that path in K to 12.

Was there a specific experience that influenced the writing of this book?
I have been teaching and working in education for 25 years. I am so lucky that I get to work with preservice teachers and educators in the field. Many of those dedicated individuals would talk to me about how they wanted to teach about Truth and Reconciliation, but were afraid to, or did not know where to start. I wrote this book as a safe entry point for teachers to begin this journey with their students. Each chapter and lesson plan is very practical and visual and makes K to 12 curriculum connections for teachers. The book is that hands-on resource that honours Indigenous communities and addresses educator insecurities around sensitive topics.

Explore and infuse Truth and Reconciliation in your classroom by ordering Truth and Reconciliation in Canadian Schools today.

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Honouring the Indigenous tradition of potlatch

For centuries, the potlatch persisted as a sacred and significant social ceremony practiced by Indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest Coast of Canada and the United States, including the Heiltsuk, Haida, Nuxalk, Tlingit, Makah, Tsimshian, Nuu-chah-nulth, Kwakwaka’wakw, and Coast Salish cultures.

In their book Potlatch as Pedagogy, Sara Florence Davidson and Robert Davidson describe the potlatch as: “the legal foundation of our social structure [which] ensured the transmission of our cultural knowledge.”  

According to Davidson, the word ‘potlatch’ “referred to any ceremonial distribution of property among different coast peoples regardless of the specific nature of the event.”

This time of great feasting traditionally lasts for several days and includes dancing and performances in masks and full regalia. In Kwakwaka’wakw culture, the event is hosted by a numaym, or “House” comprised of a group of kin who draw their identity from the same ancestral founder.

SonnyAssu_ThisPlaceRetold_2019Exploring the History of Potlatch

In his story “Tilted Ground,” featured in the upcoming graphic novel anthology, This Place: 150 Years Retold, author Sonny Assu explores the journey of his great-great-grandfather, Chief Billy Assu, who was one of the most respected and influential potlatch chiefs in Ligwilda’xw history.

Throughout the story, we are presented with two alternate versions of the potlatch: the perspective of the Superintendent of Indian Affairs and that of the members of the Ligwilda’xw community as Billy learns to properly honour his ancestors during their ceremonies.

While the government agents repeatedly describe potlatch ceremonies as wasteful, misunderstanding the important cultural significance of sharing and distributing, the story highlights the importance of potlatch ceremonies as marking transitional periods, milestones, celebrations, and the cultural significance of sharing wealth among community members.

One panel in “Tilted Ground” shows Billy reflecting on the cultural differences between the government and the Ligwilda’xw,  stating: “the mamala [white men or white people] always want to show off their personal wealth… For us it’s not like that. Material wealth is something that belongs to the greater community.”

TILTED_GROUND_ThisPlaceRetold2019
A page from “Tilted Ground” by author Sonny Assu; artwork by Kyle Charles.

This belief is reflected in Potlatch as Pedagogy, where Sara Florence Davidson states: “the potlatch was considered the ‘final avenue to establishing and upholding social status for the Haida as for other societies of the Pacific Northwest’.”  

Preservering Potlatch

On April 19, 1884, the Canadian government amended the Indian Act to ban the potlatches completely.

However, as Sonny Assu shows in his story, “Tilted Ground,” the law was ignored by the Indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest, who continued the tradition despite the new legislation.

The potlatch ban was not only unpopular with Indigenous peoples, but many non-Indigenous people also disagreed with the ban. One of them was the anthropologist Franz Boas, who began field work with the Kwakwaka’wakw in 1886 and also makes an appearance in “Tilted Ground.”

Throughout “Tilted Ground” Sonny Assu explores the important cultural significance of the potlatch, as well as how his great-great grandfather helped shape the future of the Ligwilda’xw.

He tells how Billy, after becoming the chief of the Wiweqayi, determined that the most effective way to preserve their way of life was to teach English to the Wiweqayi. This way, they could negotiate on their own behalf and take jobs in emerging industries.

Sonny states: “his vision was not about assimilation… but adoption.”

As Sonny explores in the story, the money coming into the community gave Chief Assu the means to buy more colonial and traditional goods, which allowed him to hold larger and more elaborate potlatches. He became so renowned for his potlatches that he was eventually honoured with the name “pasala” meaning “to give many potlatches.”

To this day, potlatch signifies the value of generosity as a mark of social stature: those members of the community who have an abundance use potlatches to share their material wealth with their community publicly and openly.

 


Discover more about the rich social significance of these ceremonies by pre-ordering your copy of This Place: 150 Years Retold today. Teachers can also incorporate concepts from potlatch in their classrooms with Potlatch as Pedagogy: Learning Through Ceremony, which can be purchased here.

 

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Language revitalization and gender diversity: Dallas Hunt’s interview about “Awâsis and the World-Famous Bannock”

Language revitalization and gender diversity: Dallas Hunt's interview about "Awâsis and the World-Famous Bannock"

Dallas Hunt is a teacher, writer, and member of Wapisewsipi (Swan River First Nation) in Treaty 8 territory in Northern Alberta, Canada. He is also the author of Awâsis and the World-Famous Bannock, illustrated by Amanda Strong.

In his debut children’s book, Dallas Hunt includes words in Cree and traditional methods of storytelling. The story features Awâsis, a young Cree girl seeking out help from a variety of other-than-human relatives after losing her Kôhkum’s world-famous bannock.

  1. How did you incorporate issues that you care about into Awâsis and the World-Famous Bannock?
    I moonlight as a teacher when I’m not writing poetry or children’s books, so sometimes my orientation to writing can take on a sort of pedagogical approach. But I wanted to highlight or foreground issues that I’m passionate about in Awâsis: language revitalization, kinship, among other things. It is important to me that Awâsis and the other characters not only speak Cree, but that they have a relationship premised on sharing and respect. So often our relation to “the natural world” and our other-than-human kin can be based on extraction or extractive logics, so I wanted to put forth other ideas in the book, ones that might reflect or be more in line with Cree teachings or Cree ways of being in the world.
  2. Why did you decide to include Cree in your story?
    I’m a strong proponent of language revitalization, so I knew that my first children’s book would deal primarily with the Cree language in some capacity. As a lifelong learner of nêhiyawêwin, which is to say, as someone who is not fluent and who works every day towards fluency, I wanted to provide a readable text that has phrases and words that might be helpful to young Cree awâsisak or really any new or beginning Cree language learners. Also, I love the word sîsîp. Say it aloud. Right now. It’s fun.
  1. There are lots of recipes for bannock, where did this one come from?
    This is nôhkôm’s (my grandmother’s) recipe. I asked her if she would be okay if I included her recipe in a children’s book and she said “yes.” That said, you’re right, there are so many bannock recipes out there, and this recipe is meant in no way to be prescriptive or “the one true bannock recipe.” Some people use lard, some people don’t use milk—I’ve heard all sorts of interesting and scrumptious-sounding recipes.
  1. In the story, there is a scene where Awâsis and her Kohkum bake bannock together. Have you ever baked with your Kohkum? Is there anything in particular that you would make?
    The first time I made bannock was with my kohkum. She came over to nikâwiy’s (my mother’s) and taught me how to make bannock and frybread—or, more specifically, “fried bannock.” I’ve learned a lot from my kohkum, nikâwiy, and the women in my family more generally. I hold great admiration for them and am in awe of all of them, so when I can be in the same kitchen as them, especially to make bannock, I jump at the opportunity.

PG 13. Awâsis and the World-Famous Bannock

  1. Reviewers mentioned the connection that Awâsis’s story has to that of Little Red Riding Hood. In writing the book, were you inspired by any elements of that fairy tale?
    I didn’t think about Little Red Riding Hood once while writing the story, so whenever I hear that I’m surprised and a little curious about it. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with the association or people commenting on the similarities, though I’m always fascinated with how stories about Indigenous peoples, communities, or characters are legible more broadly (or are made legible) to audiences. My hope is that if I continue with other stories about Awâsis, that the character and the story will be taken on their own terms, which might necessitate me injecting more Cree into the narrative (which I would be happy to do!)
  1. Why did you decide to give the owl the pronoun “they”?
    In short, I wanted to normalize gender variance and gender diversity within our languages and communities. I spoke with Debbie Reese, who has an amazing site dedicated to Indigenous children’s literature, about this question recently, specifically because someone in the comments section of her site had said that the Cree language did not contain (or have the possibly to contain) the singular “they.” I wondered if the post was by someone who may be uncomfortable with gender diversity within our language(s). It also presumes that Cree, as a language, is static, cemented in time, and not a living language that would be able to account for our gender diverse relatives (in the present moment or historically). For instance, why couldn’t the personal pronoun “wîya” in Cree refer to “she/he/they”? It’s heartbreaking to me that some would foreclose on that possibility and allow English to house our relations better than Cree could. All of that said, I’m not an authority on this issue, nor am I the first or only person to be doing this work. There are numerous Indigenous women, queer, Two-Spirit, trans, non-binary, and other gender diverse peoples generating texts and other creative works and social practices with these thoughts very much at the forefront, and they’ve been doing it for much longer than I have.
  1. Readers may not know that Awâsis was originally written as a boy in the manuscript. Was there a reason why you decided to change Awâsis to a girl?
    Mainly, Awâsis was a boy because I liked the alliteration of the original title (“A Boy and His Bannock”). But after an editor (the wonderful Desirae Warkentin) suggested changing the title of the text to Awâsis and the World-Famous Bannock because it would be more descriptive and because children might enjoy the superlative, then I began to think “why does Awâsis have to be a boy?” If there are future iterations of Awâsis, then I hope the character will occupy a variety of gender positions, in order to gesture to the great gender diversity within our communities, a diversity that is at times unrecognized, uncelebrated, silenced, erased, and, in some cases, punished. In the wider “Awâsis universe,” there is room for all our relations.
  1. Amanda Strong’s illustrations really make the story come to life. What was the process of working with an illustrator like, and what do you like about the artwork in your book?
    This book would not exist without Amanda’s wonderful illustrations. Amanda had provided an early mock-up of Awâsis, and when I asked her if she could possibly make the story look a little more “whimsical,” she came back with really the whole aesthetic of the book. And I couldn’t be happier with it. If you enjoy the illustrations in the text, I would recommend checking out the rest of Amanda’s work, including the short film Biidaaban (The Dawn Comes), as well as the other work of Spotted Fawn Productions. It’s really all quite incredible and I’m very lucky to have gotten the chance to work with Amanda. Many thanks to her for bringing Awâsis to life! Hiy hiy!

Awâsis and the World-Famous Bannock


Click here to see Amanda Strong’s illustrations in Awâsis and the World-Famous Bannock for yourself and order your copy today.

 

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An Interview with Sonny Assu about “This Place: 150 Years Retold”

Sonny Assu, This Place Retold 2019

Photo by Mark Mushet Photography

Sonny Assu is an interdisciplinary artist whose diverse practice is informed by a deep connection to Kwakwaka’wakw art and culture and melded with western/pop principles of art making. He is one of eleven Indigenous authors who wrote stories for the graphic novel anthology, This Place: 150 Years Old. “Tilted Ground,” illustrated by Kyle Charles and coloured by Scott A. Ford, talks about Sonny’s great-great-grandfather, Chief Billy Assu, as well as the potlatch ban.

  • Why did you choose to tell this story?

I have a deep connection to my great-great-grandfather, even though I never met him. He’s come to inform my work in various ways, and this story pays tribute to his legacy.

  • How did you come up with the title “Tilted Ground?”

The old village site of Tsaqaluten, just south of our current village, translates to “Tilted Ground.” It’s now a site of a resort/lodge of the same name and the ground, is in fact, tilted.

  • If you could summarize the story with one line, what would you say?

A young man, groomed to become a legend, grapples with the continued colonial onslaught against his, and other, coastal Indigenous people.

  • Why did you pick these particular historic events for your story?

This era, particularly the potlatch ban era, has been a major focus for a number of my art works. I feel this information is readily hidden from the public. That if we know more about Canada’s past atrocities towards the First People, it will put our current atrocities in perspective. A story like this needs to be told, so we know where we come from and how we will get to where we are going.

Photo by Mark Mushet Photography.

  • Which character do you relate to the most? Why?

Chief Billy Assu. I think because the odds are stacked against him and he still manages to maintain the ways of the old while setting the path for the future. Back then, the future was uncertain, and if he were to witness where we are today, he would see what he was able to accomplish. But, he’d be left with a lot of questions and unease over what is happening now and where we are going next in this colonial ride called Canada.

  • If you could go back in time and meet with one of the characters in your story, or if you could meet one of the characters in real life today, what would you say to them or ask them?

I’d want to meet Chief Billy Assu… but not in the time of the story or in the present. Maybe 5-10 years before his passing. Just sit with him. Bring him tea and ask him to tell me all his stories as we eat cookies out of a blue tin. I want to hear his old-man elder voice.

  • Were any parts harder to write than others?

I think the most difficult part to write were the settler/colonial scenes. For someone like John A. MacDonald, I wanted him to be a caricature, and it was a delicate dance between tearing him down, making him a clown, and highlighting the legacy that no one talks about.

  • From where do you get your inspiration?

From many places, mostly nerdy pursuits such as video-games, comic books, and sci-fi. But over the last three years, my inspiration has come from my proximity to my community. Having moved to my unceded home lands has been life changing. I wake, walk, and work where my ancestors did.

  • What does your writing process look like?

Chaotic, yet focused. I like to divide my writing time between my studio or a coffee shop. Particularly when I lived in the city. I don’t know what it was, but there was something about the hiss and whirr of the espresso machine, coupled with the buzz of the atmosphere. It’s an interesting combination of white noises that are easy to gain focus from. My studio is the complete opposite. While I paint or make, I require music to sing to. While I write, I need silence.

  • What advice do you have for other storytellers?

If I can write, you can make art!

  • In the next 150 years, what would you want to see happening in Canada?

The patriarchy smashed, colonialism clobbered, and capitalism quashed! Nuff said.

 


 

Click here to order your copy of This Place: 150 Years Retold.

Explore the past 150 years through the eyes of Indigenous creators in this groundbreaking graphic novel anthology. Beautifully illustrated, these stories are a wild ride through magic realism, serial killings, psychic battles, and time travel. See how Indigenous peoples have survived a post-apocalyptic world since Contact.

Featuring Stories By: Kateri Akiwenzie-Damm, Sonny Assu, Brandon Mitchell, Rachel and Sean Qitsualik-Tinsley, David A. Robertson, Niigaanwewidam James Sinclair, Jen Storm, Richard Van Camp, Katherena Vermette, and Chelsea Vowel

Illustrated By: Tara Audibert, Kyle Charles, GMB Chomichuk, Natasha Donovan, Scott B. Henderson, Ryan Howe, Andrew Lodwick, and Jen Storm

Colour By: Scott A. Ford and Donovan Yaciuk

CCA_NewChapter_logo_transparent-e

This is one of the 200 exceptional projects funded through the Canada Council for the Arts’ New Chapter program. With this $35M investment, the Council supports the creation and sharing of the arts in communities across Canada.

 

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Cozy up with one of our 2018 titles

Winter has arrived here on the prairies, and with the change of seasons and the new year right around the corner, there’s no better time to curl up with one of our 2018 titles!

Whether you’re looking for a thought-provoking read to explore, or you’re on the hunt for the perfect gift, we’re sure you’ll find the perfect book:

A Girl Called Echo Vol 2: Red River Resistance
A Girl Called Echo Vol 2:
Red River Resistance

Red River Resistance is volume two in the graphic novel series, A Girl Called Echo, written by Governor General Award–winner Katherena Vermette, illustrated by Scott B. Henderson, and coloured by Donovan Yaciuk.

This latest instalment picks up where Pemmican Wars left off, and sees Echo Desjardins adjusting to her new home, making new friends, and discovering more about her Métis heritage.

Echo also can’t stop slipping back and forth in time, and one afternoon, she finds herself transported to the banks of the Red River in the summer of 1869. The Métis families there, who have lived along the river for generations, struggle to be recognized as their land is sold out from under them.

As Echo travels back and forth through time, she witnesses tensions build, as the initially peaceful resistance against Canadian surveyors turns violent.

Awâsis and the World-Famous Bannock

Awâsis and the World-Famous Bannock

Awâsis and the World-Famous Bannock is a playful story written by Dallas Hunt and illustrated by Amanda Strong which celebrates Cree dialects and traditional ways of storytelling.

The story focuses on Awâsis, who loses her Kôhkum’s freshly baked world-famous bannock during an unfortunate mishap and seeks out help from a variety of other-than-human relatives.

This whimsical story introduces Cree words and pronunciations for different animals and baking ingredients, and comes with a recipe for Kôhkum’s World-Famous Bannock!

Surviving The City by Tasha Spillett 2018
Surviving the City
Vol. 1

Surviving the City, written by Tasha Spillett  and illustrated by Natasha Donovan, is one book in The Debwe Series and tells a story of kinship, cultural resurgence, resilience, and the anguish of a missing loved one.

The story focuses on Miikwan and Dez, teenage girls of (respectively) Anishinaabe and Inninew descent, who together face the challenges of growing up Indigenous in an urban landscape. However, after Dez’s grandmother becomes too sick to take care of her, Dez is faced with living in a group home. With this threat looming, Dez can’t bring herself to go home and disappears.

Miikwan is devastated at her friend’s disappearance, and losing Dez reopens old wounds from when her mother went missing. She finds herself wondering: will her community find Dez in time, and will she be able to cope if they don’t?

Monsters
Monsters

Monsters is the second novel in David A. Robertson’s The Reckoner trilogy, and picks up the story of Cole Harper, a young man struggling to settle into life in Wounded Sky First Nation.

Cole may have stopped a serial killer, but his adventure is far from over: the health clinic has been shut down by a mysterious organization, questions still remain about his parents’ death, and there’s a creature lurking in the dark heart of Blackwood Forest.

As Cole continues to seek the truth about the problems facing Wounded Sky First Nation, he digs further into the mysterious circumstances surrounding his parents’ disappearance…

Watch for book 3, Ghosts, coming in 2019!

 

Gifts for Teachers

Whether you’re an educator looking for a thought-provoking gift for a colleague, or looking to expand on your current educational resources for your classroom, we’ve got a great lineup of titles also released this past year:

Hands-On Science and Technology for Ontario

The Hands-on Science and Technology books are an instructional program for elementary science teachers in Ontario. If you live outside of Ontario, make sure to take a look at the Hands-On Science books for other provinces.

This practical guide is based on the latest research in science education and is a valuable resource for building a comprehensive and authentic assessment plan which focuses on the Achievement Levels outlined in the Ontario Science and Technology Curriculum. The new editions embed Indigenous perspectives and knowledge in lesson plans, to help you incorporate authentic Indigenous content in the classroom.

Potlatch as Pedagogy

Potlatch as Pedagogy is the result of a collaboration between father and daughter Sara Florence Davidson and Robert Davidson.

In 1969, a potlatch was held to mark the raising of a totem pole carved by Robert, the first the community had seen in nearly 80 years. His daughter, Sara Florence Davidson, became an educator, and through the course of her own education came to see how the traditions of the Haida practiced by her father could be integrated into contemporary educational practices.

Potlatch as Pedagogy offers a hopeful and eloquent model for learning which is holistic, relational, practical, and continuous.

 

Ensouling Our Schools

Ensouling Our Schools is one book in the Teaching to Diversity series, and is written by Jennifer Katz with Kevin Lamoureux, and includes a foreword by Ry Moran.

Authors Jennifer Katz and Kevin Lamoureux weave their experiences as educators and advocates together to present a framework for creating educational communities which offer meaning and purpose while developing intellectual thought and critical analysis.

 

Truth and Reconciliation in Canadian Schools

In Truth and Reconciliation in Canadian Schools, author Pamela Rose Toulouse offers the latest information, personal insights, authentic resources, and lesson plans and interactive strategies which support Indigenous and non-Indigenous learners in the classroom.

This book is a terrific resource for teachers who are interested in finding ways to respectfully include residential school history, treaty education, First Nations/Métis/Inuit perspectives and sacred circle teachings, and Indigenous contributions into their courses and curriculum.

Truth and Reconciliation in Canadian Schools is a “must-have” resource for any educator looking to respectfully facilitate relationship building and engage in reconciliation activities.

Which of these captivating books are you looking forward to reading over the holidays? Share your thoughts with us on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, and don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter for the latest news, release dates, and pre-order opportunities!

 

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Honouring Francis Pegahmagabow

800px-Francis_Pegahmagabow_1945

His Ojibway name was Binaaswi, which roughly translates to “the wind that blows off,” but history largely remembers him as Corp. Francis ‘Peggy’ Pegahmagabow, a scout and sniper who served in WWI.

Pegahmagabow rose to fame within Canada after being credited with 378 kills and 300 captures during his time abroad, but the Indigenous communities where he lived knew him as much more than a sniper, or a scout: he was a passionate activist, icon, leader, and family member.

The Legend of ‘Peggy’

Pegahmagabow’s legacy began during his time in the trenches: he fought in the Second Battle of Ypres; survived the Battle of the Somme, a battle that claimed the lives of over a million people (the German people called it ‘das Bludbat’—the bloodbath); and navigated the muddy, bloody fields near Passchendaele.

Throughout all these dangerous missions, the legend of ‘Peggy’ continued to grow.

‘Peggy’ as Pegahmagabow was known to his fellow soldiers, was celebrated for his bravery in the trenches. At night, under the cloak of darkness, he would camouflage himself in the muddy, broken earth and crawl into No Man’s Land. There, he would stay hidden—sometimes for days at a time—until he could get a clear shot.

In addition to being a famous sniper, Pegahmagabow was also renowned as a messenger and a scout. He saved countless lives by carrying important orders back and forth between the units stationed along the front. By the end of WWI, Pegahmagabow was awarded three Military Medals for his courage and bravery. He is one of just 38 soldiers to hold this distinction.

Coming Home & Activism

The man who would become famous for his bravery wasn’t even recognized as a citizen in his own country. Though he is still the most decorated Indigenous soldier in Canadian history, the respect Pegahmagabow earned on the battlefield did not come home with him. This led ‘Peggy’ and other Indigenous veterans to become politically active. He refused to be sidelined by the Indian Agent assigned to him by the Department of Indian Affairs.

After nearly four years abroad earning the respect of his comrades, Pegahmagabow became a Chief and Councillor of what today is known as the Wasauksing First Nation. Eventually, he rose to the position of Supreme Chief of the Native Independent Government, a precursor to today’s Assembly of First Nations.

Learn About Francis ‘Peggy’ Pegahmagabow

There’s so much more to the story of Francis ‘Peggy’ Pegahmagabow, and a great place to start is in our upcoming graphic novel anthology This Place: 150 Years Retold (May 2019).

This captivating story is written by David A. Robertson (author of When We Were Alone and The Reckoner Trilogy) and features beautiful illustrations and colour by artist Natasha Donovan (The Sockeye Mother and Surviving the City).

‘Peggy’ follows a young Francis as he survives the trenches at Ypres, reflecting on the Ojibway teachings which shaped him, and the differences between how Indigenous peoples were treated on the battlefield compared to back home:

“Here, we’re like equals. I even outrank soldiers. Back home, it’s not like that,” Francis says in the story. “The government treats us like children. They take our land, they put us on reserves, and when they want something else, they come and take that too.”

 

Discover this powerful and inspiring story by pre-ordering your copy of This Place: 150 Years Retold today.

To learn more about Francis Pegahmagabow, see Sounding Thunder: The Stories of Francis Pegahmagabow by Brian D. McInnes.

For other stories about Indigenous veterans, see The Scout: Tommy Prince by David A. Robertson.

 

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“This Place: 150 Years Retold” Author Statement: Brandon Mitchell

Brandon Mitchell is the author of “Migwite’tmeg: We Remember It” in the anthology This Place: 150 Years Retold, which features artwork by Tara Audibert and coloured by Donovan Yaciuk. Below are Brandon’s thoughts on writing the story, which gives an insider’s perspective of the salmon raids of the 70s and 80s in his home community. 

* * * *

Listuguj is my home. My earliest memories are of rod-fishing on the river banks at sunrise with my father and younger brother. My father would talk to us about our right to fish, and our responsibility to respect the cycle. We fish to feed ourselves and to share with those who can’t.

The raids of 1981 were rarely mentioned growing up. As I grew older, when I told people from other First Nation communities that I was from Listuguj, I was surprised at how many replied with, “I remember being there in ’81…”. They shared vivid stories about the roles they played supporting us during the raids.

Listuguj. Photo provided by Brandon Mitchell

Listuguj. Photo provided by Brandon Mitchell

When the opportunity came to share this story, I didn’t know where to begin. I didn’t want to cover the same ground as Alanis Obomsawin’s compelling documentary, Incident at Restigouche. I mentioned the project to my mother-in-law; she wanted me to start with the 1980 raid. I was confused—“There was an earlier raid?” I began researching, and found stories on the “salmon wars” of the 1970s. I discovered that there were many smaller raids that took place in Listuguj and other Indigenous communities in Quebec in the lead-up to 1981, including one larger raid in 1980. I found my direction.

This story is dedicated to everyone who shared their stories of the Raids with me.

~ Brandon Mitchell

* * * *

Watch Alanis Obomsawin’s compelling documentary, Incident at Restigouche (1984), on the National Film Board website: 

Click here to order your copy of This Place: 150 Years Retold.

* * * * * *

Explore the past 150 years through the eyes of Indigenous creators in this groundbreaking graphic novel anthology. Beautifully illustrated, these stories are a wild ride through magic realism, serial killings, psychic battles, and time travel. See how Indigenous peoples have survived a post-apocalyptic world since Contact.

Featuring Stories By: Kateri Akiwenzie-Damm, Sonny Assu, Brandon Mitchell, Rachel and Sean Qitsualik-Tinsley, David A. Robertson, Niigaanwewidam James Sinclair, Jen Storm, Richard Van Camp, Katherena Vermette, and Chelsea Vowel

Illustrated By: Tara Audibert, Kyle Charles, GMB Chomichuk, Natasha Donovan, Scott B. Henderson, and Andrew Lodwick

Colour By: Scott A. Ford and Donovan Yaciuk

Canada Council New Chapter Logo

 

This is one of the 200 exceptional projects funded through the Canada Council for the Arts’ New Chapter program. With this $35M investment, the Council supports the creation and sharing of the arts in communities across Canada.

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Introducing the Instagram Contest for “This Place: 150 Years Retold”

We’re excited to announce we’re running a contest on our Instagram feed for the upcoming anthology This Place: 150 Years Retold (May 2019) at @highwaterpress!

Fanned promotional postcards for the graphic novel anthology This Place 150 Years Retold

This Place: 150 Years Retold is a graphic novel anthology from HighWater Press that features award-winning Indigenous creators (see full list at the bottom of the page) including Katherena Vermette (2017 Burt Award, The Break), David Alexander Robertson (2017 Governor General’s Literary Award, When We Were Alone), and Jennifer Storm (2017 CBC Manitoba Future 40).

The anthology brings the last 150 years to life through beautiful graphic art and Indigenous characters and stories. To celebrate its upcoming release, we’re running an Instagram caption contest from November 8th to 29th for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).

We’ll be featuring a prize package from Indigenous artisans and authors, including:

How to Enter

Entering is easy! Just follow these steps:

  1. Follow these four accounts on Instagram: @highwaterpress @herbraids  @IndigoArrows @cheekbonebeauty
  2. Create your caption for the image provided. Tell us what you think the characters are saying and doing.
  3. Leave your caption in the comments section of each contest-related post. This is the most important part!

Enter as many times as you’d like. The more comments and ideas, the better!

The contest closes on November 29th, and we’ll be publishing a final post to let you know it’s your last chance to enter.

Good luck!

About This Place: 150 Years Retold

Explore the past 150 years through the eyes of Indigenous creators in this groundbreaking graphic novel anthology. Beautifully illustrated, these stories are a wild ride through magic realism, serial killings, psychic battles, and time travel. See how Indigenous peoples have survived a post-apocalyptic world since Contact. Pre-order your copy at highwaterpress.com/ThisPlace.

Featuring the following contributors:

Foreword by: Alicia Elliott

Stories by: Kateri Akiwenzie-Damm, Sonny Assu, Brandon Mitchell, Rachel and Sean Qitsualik-Tinsley, David A. Robertson, Niigaanwewidam James Sinclair, Jen Storm, Richard Van Camp, Katherena Vermette, and Chelsea Vowel

Illustrated by: Tara Audibert, Kyle Charles, GMB Chomichuk, Natasha Donovan, Scott B. Henderson, and Andrew Lodwick

Colour by: Scott A. Ford and Donovan Yaciuk

 

Canada Council New Chapter Logo

This is one of the 200 exceptional projects funded through the Canada Council for the Arts’ New Chapter program. With this $35M investment, the Council supports the creation and sharing of the arts in communities across Canada.

 

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