Thursday, December 15, 2011
Sunday, December 4, 2011
It's December and I'm in Northern Ontario.
This week, I spoke to 5000 high school students, thousands of elementary kids and a good number of adults (parents, teachers and administrators)in Thunder Bay.
I continue to promote reading through modeling and common sense practices: reading through accessible and inclusive books: no books - no reading. No books that are inclusive and accessible - no reading.
I'm headed south to Fort Frances where my friend/host Brent Tookenay will take me out into a number of their reserves...to share the same passionate message.
Soon, it will be Christmas. My gift for all the kids I'm privileged to work with is the gift of reading.
Monday, November 7, 2011
I'm back from Saskatchewan (God Bless Regina Librarians) and Alberta! Raven's Greatest Creation...(in English, French and Ojibway) is printed and shipped. I'll be launching our new book over the next few months...
Rubicon continues to work on our Turtle Island Voices. In that series, my new book, White Deer, is being illustrated (painted) by the incredible Aaron Paquette of Edmonton. This piece that sold at his exhibition at Bear's Paw in Edmonton is a good example of Aaron's work!
Monday, October 10, 2011
Edmonton, Standoff on the Blood Reserve, Owen Sound, Lindsay... I'm on the road making new friends and sharing my message: literacy/song/dance/culture...
My new book, Raven's Greatest Creation, is at the printer. Beneath Raven Moon should be there within the month. In the words of brother Joseph, "it's all good!"
Look closely in this image for Wolf...and Raven appears in the corners of Bear's eyes. Brigitte Lopez is a brilliant artist and Raven's Greatest will be one of my most spectacular cultural books to date!
Monday, September 12, 2011
Summer has come and gone. Kids are back in schools and that means teachers are back and so am I. I'm back on the road. I spent the first week of September in and around Kenora/Dryden. This picture is of Shoal Lake 40 school...on the spectacular island that houses Shoal Lake 40 First Nation. I came home for my birthday and am soon headed to Durham for a week.
Raven's Greatest Creation is at the printer's. Rainbow Crow is nearly there and Beneath Raven Moon is right behind that.
Professionally, all is good. Personally, my mom is in a battle with cancer. She is elderly and not likely to win this one. My father, sister..our entire family are soaking in every last minute we can with our wonderful mom/grandmother.
Wednesday, July 13, 2011
Character, literacy and celebrating diverse cultures were the main focuses of the Towards a Compassionate Learning Community program at Cambrian Heights School.
As a diverse micro-community, Cambrian Heights School recognized the need to engage the students in literacy and culture, and to promote the love of reading outside of the school environment. Thanks to the support of an EducationMatters grant, famous Canadian Author, David Bouchard was invited to spread his messages about the importance of literacy and discovering who you are to the Cambrian Heights students.
Bouchard is a dynamic, passionate and engaging oral story teller and presenter who captures children's imaginations, while implanting powerful messages and lessons within the story. "This program was really three-fold," says Principal Bonnie Bilcox. "Children learned about character education, and how such virtues as honesty and humility make you a good person; there was a literacy piece that really brought the love of reading with your family at home to the forefront; and there was a cultural piece that allowed us to connect with the very diverse student population, and to celebrate their heritage." Bouchard's presentation was based on his book, The Seven Sacred Teachings of White Buffalo Calf Woman, which resonates with the messages of traditional First Nations values. The experience allowed children of First Nations, Métis, and Inuit descent, in particular, to really connect with Bouchard and reflect on their heritage and Aboriginal roots.
Bouchard's presentation involved parents and was a piece of a bigger picture, as his book became the theme for the year's studies throughout all grades. Students participated in many projects that related to the Seven Sacred Teachings. Students were given the opportunity to collaborate with Matt Palmer a documentary filmmaker, and to interview Bouchard when he visited Cambrian Heights. "It was epic meeting David Bouchard and talking with him about his ideas for our documentary based on his book— The Seven Sacred Teachings. I interviewed him and asked him what inspired him to become a writer and I remember him saying that his grandmother, who is dead, was his inspiration," says student Paula.
Learning leader, Christine McCrory says, "Bouchard is a very provocative and compelling individual who speaks about his own disconnect with his Métis heritage; as educators, we were realizing that a lot of our students couldn't identify with their roots and that there was a real lack of self-belonging."
The Towards a Compassionate Learning Community program in combination with Bouchard's presentation left a powerful impact on a great many students. One of the most powerful examples was when a student, who had experienced violent social influences, stood up in front of his peers during Bouchard's presentation and spoke about his personal connection to Bouchard's lessons. Afterwards, Bouchard met privately with the student and gave him a book about embracing his Aboriginal roots.
Watch David Bouchard present to Cambrian Heights students here.
Tuesday, July 12, 2011
The Calgary Stampede draws millions of people ever year, all attracted for different reasons. The last time my girls and I attended was to take in the chuckwagon races from behind the scenes. Yet the highlight was spending time with our good friends Sharon and Dennis Weber. Master Metis artist Dennis Weber was my partner in The Secret of Your Name, a best seller that is still going strong. We are currently working on a new book with a Metis focus, 1885: The Metis Resistance (first hand accounts of North West Resistance).
I am working on another book with American artist Dol Oelze (http://www.donoelzeart.com/). Our book, The First Flute, is being published by Red Deer press this coming spring. The highlight of this years Stampede was meeting with Don to go over what we had, what we needed and all the wheres and whens of our book.
I can't imagine a more exciting way to make a living than dreaming my dreams and watching them unfold through the art of such talented people as all of my partners.
Wednesday, June 29, 2011
“Eagle who flies in and out of the clouds bringing messages from Creator”
On Tuesday June 21, David Bouchard plays one of his many flutes for a crowd that gathered after the end of his two-hour presentation to listen to more of his songs and stories. Bouchard performed in the Valemount Community Theatre at Valemount Secondary School to an attentive audience following an outdoor potluck dinner. Bouchard’s Métis spirit name is Zhiibaayaanaakwad which means roughly…”“Eagle who flies in and out of the clouds bringing messages from Creator”.
Honoured Métis Writer Visits on Aboriginal Day
A bright warm sun broke through the clouds when famous Métis author and Order of Canada recipient, David Bouchard, arrived in our Valley on June 21, which also happened to be Aboriginal Day across Canada.
Outside Valemount Secondary School (VSS), many Valley residents gathered to enjoy a community potluck with David Bouchard. An authentic teepee had been set up and enjoyed by the children who attended. “I expected more mosquitoes, “ Bouchard joked when opening his evening presentation, held at the Community Theatre at VSS. Moments earlier, as the audience was seating themselves, beautiful melodies filled the theatre as Bouchard expertly played one of his many flutes.
It had been a long road that led Bouchard to our community theatre on Aboriginal Day. “This year alone, since the first of February, I’ve travelled 62,000 miles. In the last 11 years it’s for sure been a million miles,” Bouchard told The Valley Sentinel, speaking to us before the show. Bouchard told us that he has likely been snowed-in in every remote community in Canada, including with a “big white ugly cook” in Natuashish in northern Labrador. “I’ve met a lot of interesting people and learned a lot of interesting stories,” Bouchard said of his many travels. “The most significant thing I’m doing in my life is what I’m doing now,” Bouchard declared. He said it took him 25 years to learn to become a better father and teacher. It started with him progressively watching his own son’s struggle and coming to realize the importance of reading. “My sons don’t read because I wasn’t a good father, I just didn’t know,” Bouchard explained. He quoted famous author Maya Angelou who said, “Parents who know better, do better.” He said he realized the power he has to make change happen and decided to use that power as a school principal.
Part one of his destiny was realized. Part two of Bouchard’s journey came with the realization of his Métis ancestry. “It dawned on me that maybe I was put here for a reason, maybe my Grandmothers were waiting for the time to be right for me to be mature enough, to be ripe enough, to guide me,” Bouchard said. He believes that the reason Aboriginal people are not readers is because they don’t see themselves in books. “The good news is anything can change,” Bouchard said. Bouchard noted such famous aboriginal authors as Joseph Boyden, who won the 2008 Giller Prize for Three Day Road and Drew Hayden Taylor, the Ojibway writer of Motorcycles & Sweetgrass.
“I have a mission to write cultural books that will be of interest to all ages and I am trying to include as many nations as I can,” Bouchard declares. Bouchard explained that he changed to a publisher who agreed to print his books in native languages. “My dream is to get books in as many of our languages as I can, there are at least 62 living languages in our country,” Bouchard explained. Bouchard has authored 52 books. “I have... maybe 10 in the fire,” said Bouchard.
Bouchard’s presentation held the audience spellbound for its two-hour length during which he demonstrated the different melodies his various flutes made, demonstrated to the children of the audience the importance of reading through the telling of stories and explained the key to becoming good reader.
“To become a reader, find one book you like and then one more and one more. That is why I like series like Harry Potter and Twilight,” Bouchard told the audience.
Even when the presentation ended many members of the audience joined Bouchard on stage to speak with him personally, learn more of his beautiful flutes and to perhaps squeeze just a little more knowledge from such a wise man. Particularly obvious was the ease the children had speaking and interacting with Bouchard.
Local First Nation Elder, Mae Frye, was impressed with the presentation. “I really enjoyed the show, especially the attention he gave to the kids, and how he encouraged them to read more books and watch less television. I think that was my highlight. He is a very good storyteller. Storytelling, I think, is very important,” said Frye.
“Man with a Mission”
David Bouchard discusses the struggles Métis children have in learning to read.
Photos by Andrea Scholz
Friday, June 24, 2011
In Valemount, I was hosted by my old friend Claude Germain. I stayed in Moose Cottage at Teepee Meadows. The mountains don't get any prettier and the mountain men don't get any sweeter!
Tuesday, June 14, 2011
Saturday, June 4, 2011
For my new friends - for WILU members with whom I had the privilege of spending yesterday… (http://www2.uregina.ca/wilu2011/)
Thank you for your kind and wonderful reception. I’d like to tell you that all my audiences are as warm and passionate about my message as you were but it isn’t so.
You are wonderful - a national treasure. Miigwetch/marcee/thank you.
This is the list I promised you – the books I spoke about during my workshop.
Books by Aboriginal writers…that include aboriginal readers - the few that I was able to speak to in our short time together:
1. Joseph Boyden’s Three Day Road and his Through Black Spruce
2. Richard Wagamese’s One Native Life, For Joshua, Keeper ‘n Me, and my favourite Ragged Company
3. Drew Hayden Taylor’s Motorcycles and Sweetgrass, his Me Funny and Me Sexy.
4. Joseph Bruchac’s….plethora of excellent books.
5. Joseph Marshall III's One Hundred in the Hand
6. Picture book by Dale Auger…Mwakwa – Talks to the Loon
7. Picture books by Richard Van Camp and George Littlechild
8. Picture books by C.J. Taylor
9. Picture book by Maxine Trottier
10. Picture/cultural books that I have written
Books that include aboriginal readers…
1. Alfred Silver’s The Red River Story
2. Tyler Trafford’s Sun on the Mountains (trilogy)
3. John Vaillant’s The Golden Spruce (I spoke of Tiger as well)
4. Paul Peel’s Autobiography
5. Sacajawea by Anna Lea Waldo
6. Guy Vanderhaeghe’s The Englishman’s Boy and The Last Crossing
7. Gear and Gear’s multitude of books…I spoke to their newest Coming of the Storm and the their YA Children of the Dawnland.
8. Jean Auld’s Clan of the Cave Bear series
9. Win Blevins’ Stone Song and his Rock Child
10. The Diary of John Jewitt
11. Michelle Paver’s Chronicles of Darkness
12. Manda Scott’s Boudica
13. Thomas Berger’s Little Big Man
During my keynote, I read from Richard Jorgensen's Reading with DadThat's it... I home safe and sound...without the iPad I thought I might have landed at the U of R. Darn ...Group hug -
Sunday, May 29, 2011
...I leave tomorrow for Kelowna but the month of June is a well balanced month...road and home in harmony. It's all good...Oh...I should add that I have found a family on the road. Just look at these two handsome, smiling faces. How could anyone not love men like these?
Thursday, May 19, 2011
I have traveled thousands of miles. Tonight, I sleep in Montreal. Last night, I slept in Ottawa. The night before that, Cambridge... If it sounds like I'm tired, I am a little. Planes, hotels and restaurants will do that to a person. If it sounds as if I'm ungrateful, I am not. I am grateful for the opportunity to make many new friends, to share my learnings and to matter where there is a need. I'm grateful to be able to see so much of our beautiful country (Owen Sound, Saugeen, Bracebridge...Cambridge and Ottawa)! And as an added bonus, I get to spend time with friends and family (cousins Denis, Ro and Lauren, friends Steve Rensink, Jeff Burnham, Raymond Skye, Ray Auger, and Tribal Vision (shown here).
I will go home tomorrow night for two quality days before flying back to Ontario for a week in Barrie, Orillia and Rama! It's all good!
Saturday, April 30, 2011
Thursday, April 21, 2011
Saturday, April 9, 2011
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
Wednesday, March 16, 2011
Something I haven't done for too long now is recommend a book...NO... in this case, recommend an author. Richard Wagamese came to me from THE most reliable source - my Kokum in heaven. She led me to his new One Story, One Song and that turned into five of Richard's books that are in my bag en route to Paris. If you've not read Richard yet, are you ever in for a treat. He is everything perfect in a writer - soft, sensitive, nostalgic, loving (Richard loves his wife Deb and his dog Molly in the exactl same way I love my wife and dog)...He is giving and open and expressive and... I can't recall anything quite like him. And as an added bonus, Richard is Ojibway!
Thursday, February 24, 2011
Tuesday, February 22, 2011
Sunday, February 20, 2011
Monday, February 14, 2011
I traded a good flute for three tickets to Elton John's Valentine's Day concert in Victoria tonight! ...Tonight Vicki, Ashleigh and Victoria enjoy Sir Elton while I'm here in Thunder Bay with my old friend Persian Man.
Thursday, February 3, 2011
Wednesday, February 2, 2011
Good News? ...This too shall pass and I'm within walking distance of Tim Horton's!
Now, this picture...this is worthy of school closure! ...My host Barb and I are standing in front of my hotel in Natuashish, Labrador!