ARTS | BOOK REVIEWS
Three new books worth reading
by Chris Paci
ome of you know that I read a lot of books. Every once in a while I share some of my impressions with Voyageur readers. I try to read new books by either a Métis author or on a Métis topic. In this article I want to introduce you to three very different books.
hristmas La Pouchinn is a gorgeous children’s book by Métis author, Deborah Delaronde, about a Michif Christmas pudding. While the story ends with Christmas celebrations, the illustrations by Virginia Mc- Coy are stylistically attractive, with prominent Métis motifs. The story is in poem form, and follows a hard working family through the four seasons as they gather and harvest ingredients needed to make “La Pouchinn”.
ur Knowledge Canoe is a very attractive booklet from Marcel Labelle. He illustrates the story with photos from workshops and nature. Many Voyageur readers will know that Marcel, aka “Mahigan”, is a proud member of the MNO. He has been building tra- ditional birch bark canoes for a few years now. In this book Marcel illustrates some of the teachings and gifts that are part of the process. This book is invaluable.
What I like about the book is that it has a page of vo- cabulary as well as the recipe to make La Pouchinn. This book is good for parents reading to their children and for early years.
The reading level is about grade 5 or 6. A table of Al- gonquin, English and French words used in the story is included. While intended for young audiences, the ecology lessons embedded throughout the book make it essential reading for all ages. I will read this book over and over and hope Marcel will keep writing.
Deborah Delaronde & Virginia McCoy Christmas La Pouchinn Penticton: Theytus Books. 2010.
Marcel Labelle Our Knowledge Canoe. Labelle, Boston and Labelle publishers. 2010.
Glen Aikenhead & Herman Michell Bridging Cultures: Indigenous and Scientific Ways of Knowing Nature Toronto: Pearson. 2011.
he last book I want to highlight for readers is “Bridging Cultures” by Aikenhead and Michell. Dr Aikenhead is Professor Emeritus at the University of Saskatchewan and Mr Michell is Director of the North- ern Teacher Education Program at La Ronge. This is a mostly academic text, aimed at teacher candidates. The book seeks to assist teachers with thinking about how they can bridge Indigenous and western knowledge about science. This isn’t how the authors describe it. To them, Indigenous Ways of Knowing are very different from “Euro-science”. I disagree with this as a lot of sci- ence doesn’t come from Europe and many Métis have found innovations to balance Indigenous and western knowledge, often finding the best in both to develop something very new (but also old). As Indigenous peo- ple, Métis are cited in the book, as are a number of other Aboriginal authors. What I find most interesting about “Bridging Cultures” is that Aikenhead and Michell have gathered most of the literature and include a cou- ple of real life stories, but on the whole they do not ac- tually talk to Indigenous people. With this in mind, this is essential reading for students, teachers, and scientists alike. I hope it will fuel a great deal of discussion within Indigenous communities and academia. T
As I said, three very different books, each with something to offer: I hope that in future editions of the Voyageur all of you will share reviews on books you are reading so I can catch up on my work. Even more, I hope you will share your stories; write them down and get them published.
MÉTIS ARTISTS | Timothy D. Mohan
Wrestling with war through art M by Linda Lord If you would like a preview, visit Timothy’s web site. www.timothymohanmetisartist.y olasite.com. étis artist, Timothy Mo- han, has a new exhibit ti- tled, “War Series: Wise Up”. Those who see it will be re- minded that the purpose of art is- n’t necessarily to create pretty pictures. In a recent interview Tim said, “I’m not sure what it was that changed my visions this past year, but deep down inside I feel that there are stories to tell and messages I must leave in my wake. I’ve always been a bit of a storyteller in my own way; many of my images tell a tale, but until recently those stories were plain and simple and relegated to prov- ing that everything and everyone is, in one way or another, related, connected by our humanity and our love of life and liberty.” There you will find a short video that shows the “making” of one picture, but be aware that within days of posting, over 100 countries banned its viewing. Mo- han was a bit surprised, but mostly disappointed by this reac- tion. “I’m just happy that I live in a country where freedom of ex- pression is allowed. I know that some people will be disgusted with my latest work, just as some will be enlightened. Some will get the message and others will not. I didn’t plan it this way, but I think I’m using my Native art- work to make both a social and political statement and hopefully create opportunities for individu- als to discuss the horrors of war....” Tim Mohan’s exhibit at humanity is the relentless black and white cruelty of war. Huronia Museum in Midland. world so that every person who sees my work will know that man makes mistakes, sometimes over and over again...”, he says. Like many of us, Tim has, until now, avoided the taboo subjects that may offend. “I’ve always avoided expressing my opinions on politics and the need for social change, but I can no longer do that. I think as both a human be- ing and an artist, I do have a re- sponsibility to share the truth, be it good or bad. I want to do my part to help open the eyes of the Park Road, Midland, Ontario, be- ginning October 14th and contin- uing throughout the month of November. In honour of Remem- brance Day, grade 10 students at Midland Secondary School are currently writing poems related to the War Series. Their poetry will be included with the exhibit and proudly displayed for all to see and read. An exhibition of some of Tim’s other work appeared at the Pene- tanguishene Centennial Museum from May 1st to June 18th and the “War Series: Wise Up” will be shown at the Huronia Museum & Ouendat Village, 549 Little Lake In many ways the new exhibit is not unlike Mohan’s earlier work. The colours are vivid. The images are bold, and they defi- nitely tell a story, but buried within the pleasure of our shared Timothy D. Mohan is a citizen of the MNO.