Children's Books on the Metis

This past Monday was Louis Riel Day, a holiday for the province of Manitoba where I live. Louis Riel was Metis. The Metis are an indigenous group of Canadians historically formed from the union of French Canadian men (primarily the voyageurs) and aboriginal women. The Metis are a distinct aboriginal group in Canada. They have a common history and culture, and a unique language known as Michif. Traditionally, they populated the areas of the western Canadian provinces of Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta. Louis Riel Day is celebrated here alongside a week long winter festival called Festival du Voyageur.

Recently I was given a number of children’s books by Pemmican Publications Inc. This press is committed to promoting the Metis culture and heritage. One of the books from their Michif Children’s Series is called Thomas and the Metis Cart. It was written originally in English by Bonnie Murray, illustrated by Sheldon Dawson and translated into Michif by Rita Flamand. Through the Michif Children’s series of books, the Michif language is being revived and shaped for use to be read now by a younger generation. Thomas and the Metis Cart is about a boy named Thomas who is given a class science project to build something on wheels. Thomas decides he would like build a replica of a Red River cart, an important transportation vehicle used by the Metis in settling the west. As his father helps him build the replica, Thomas finds out more about the cart and his Metis history.

Louis Riel Day and the Festival du Voyageur celebrate an aspect of my city and province’s history and culture. What festivals and holidays do you have in your locale that celebrate its past? Are there books about them? Do tell!


4 Responses to “Children's Books on the Metis”

  1. Marjorie Says:

    This is so interesting, Sally. I had never heard of this area of Canadian culture – and have really enjoyed following up on all your links, especially learning about the Michif language. Pemmican Publications are obviously doing valuable work to keep the language and culture alive for future generations…

  2. Liz Says:

    Hi Sally,
    I will be following your work from now on. Our first grandchild is about to enter the world and will be a mix of Uk, Dutch and Metis. I want to learn about his Metis heritage so that I can pass it on when he visits us and help him to learn about it equally with his other heritages.
    Are there any baby books?
    Thanks.
    Liz

  3. Sally Says:

    Congratulations, Liz, on the impending arrival. I do not know of any ‘baby books’ per se on Metis culture but do check out the Pemmican website as they would be the publisher to publish something like that if such books were to exist. The other place to make inquiries about good books about aboriginal heritage would be the Winnipeg public library children’s department: http://wpl.winnipeg.ca/library/backpages/kidsparents.asp

    Sally

  4. Linda Ducharme Says:

    I have published sevearl books through Pemmican Publications as well as Susie and Daniel take a close look at the Festival du Voyageur. It is an interactive book, written to music (included) and is appropriate for grades kindergarten through 5. I shared this book as well as my other 2 books for children, entitled Pepere Played the Fiddle and The Bannock Book with the children of John de Graff School last week and am slated to share them with the classes at Hampstead School on the 24th of Feb. If you are interested, you will be able to obtain copies at Hampstead School the day of the presentations. Thanks for taking the time to read this suggiestion. Linda