Aug 22, 2014
Posted in: Uncategorized
In 2011, Senator Nicole Eaton suggested that the time had come to replace the “dentally defective rat,” otherwise known as the beaver, with a new biopolitical symbol for Canada. Dr. Merle Massie of the University of Saskatchewan in an October 25, 2012 article in The Globe and Mail wrote, “I hereby launch a petition to add the lobstick tree as a symbol of Canadian identity.” Massie wrote that lobsticks were traditional cultural markers “meant to designate meeting places, burial grounds, ceremonial sites and personal totems or to honour a guest or visitor.” Indeed, as early as the 1770s, Scottish fur trader and explorer Sir Alexander Mackenzie wrote that lobsticks “denoted the immediate abode (or territory) of the natives” of Canada. Today, at the Waskesiu Golf Course they hold annual Lobstick Tournaments.
Lobstick have a long and rich history in this province. In her latest book, My First Métis Lobstick (GDI Publishing), award-winning author and SUNTEP-Prince Albert instructor Leah Marie Dorion revisits the important role of lobstick from the perspective of a young Métis boy during the fur trade period.
The book looks at the preparations by a Métis family for a lobstick festival in the boreal forest. On her website Dorion states that lobstick trees were “natural ladders and prominent lookout points” and that they served “as a reminder of the strength, practicality, and versatility of Métis families.” As always, Dorion uses her stunningly splendid artwork to bring to the fore the little known, yet important, Métis history.
Like Dorion’s My First Métis Lobstick, Manny’s Memories, written by Ken Caron and his daughter Angela Caron (GDI Publishing), goes back in time to a Métis community of Round Prairie, Saskatchewan in the 1940s through the eyes of a young boy.
Lois Lowry once said that “The worst part of holding the memories is not the pain. It’s the loneliness of it. Memories need to be shared.” In Manny’s Memories, Manny shares his boyhood memories in such a way that such virtues as hard work, generosity, self sufficiency, and caring for one another and the environment is illuminated in a rare yet vivid glimpse of life at the Métis community. More than just a fantasy or well written fiction, Manny’s Memories has a touch of reality to it. In his youth, Ken Caron was known as ‘Manny.’ Illustrations by Donna Lee Dumont make Manny’s boyhood memories unforgettable.
Both books have been translated to Michif by Norman Fleury. They are available at https://gdins.org/shop-gdi/ and at bookstores near you.
After a stupendous start to the year that saw her book Just Pretending win four book awards including Saskatchewan Book of the Year Award, and being described by the Regina-based publisher Coteau Books as “One of Canada’s most exciting new Métis voices,” GDI Director Lisa Wilson has poetry/short stories forthcoming in fall 2014 in Cîhcêwêsin: New Writing From Indigenous Saskatchewan (Hagios Press). The anthology is edited by Saskatchewan native and Trent University indigenous studies scholar Neal McLeod and features features over twenty Indigenous (including Métis) writers. The Cree word Cîhcêwêsin means a “twisting echo.” The highly anticipated collection of poems and new stories will be released in October.