Wednesday, November 23, 2022

the British Columbia Book Review

November 23, 2022November 23, 2022

Six books reviewed by Linda Rogers:

Meet Your Family/ Gikenim Giniigi’igoog
by David Bouchard and Kristy Cameron

Victoria: Medicine Wheel Education, 2021
$24.99 / 9781989122662

They tried to “take the Indian out of the child,” but it never ended, the storytelling that united each generation of elders and ancestors to their children, watering the seeds that grow out of the oldest blanket, Mother Earth. And now the cultural renaissance witnesses translation of oral to literary tradition, making the garden inclusive as more and more Indigenous writers and artists show us how to talk with kids.

It’s a bitter irony that it has taken the disinterment of innocents to remind us that the Earth is not only home to lost children and humans waiting in line for sky burial, but the real stories of creation, which are far older than the dreams of voyageurs or shortsighted bureaucrats. It has taken this long for us to collectively understand that we are united in one story, which is told in the children’s books, variations on a theme, that came in the current sharing.

For those who argue that cultural recognition is only the beginning, we can be comforted in knowing that change happens in the minds of children as they assimilate the stories of their ancestors, narratives that remind them they are one with the universe and with each other as they go forward into a world that has been cursed with transactional values. We can hope children who assimilate their messages are the peace warriors of the future.

Meet Your Family, by David Bouchard and Kristy Cameron, is all you know and all you need to know about “all my relations.” Sometimes a book comes along that steals the breath, then gives it back, so we say “Soul come back” as after the happy sneeze. This is such a gift, the satisfaction no smaller than seeing the great Ian MacEwen finally control his ploticidal impulses in Lessons, his recent book of conjoined world and intimate family.

The only message that matters when Mother Earth is betrayed by conflict, man against man, man against woman, man against environment, humankind against itself is we are one, our finite partcles of being flowing through every living thing. The lesson is urgent and Bouchard and Cameron deliver it, in picture and verse, with deliberate gentility, love one another right now. Meet your Mother, they invite:

We all come from her
Those with feathers or fur
Those who walk on two legs
Birthed from water or eggs.

The format is perfect, verse embedded in delicious affirmations of life, a surround of art that is, by virtue of its Ojibway source, line and colour describing fellow creatures from the phenomenal and spirit worlds, at once personal and universal. It is a good thing that the book is hardbound because it will be read over and over by children and adults.

As we meet Grandfather Sun and Grandmother Moon holding up the sky, bathing the wakeful and sleeping Earth in light, lectures on matriarchy and world balance are made redundant. This is all we need to know. It is within the grasp of every child and every adult who listens and watches because the illustrations light up child world, a room with no walls. Just Meet Your family. Gikenim Giniigi’igoog. It is right in front of us, the real theory of relativity, no mystery, just a simple homily.

The format is perfect, verse embedded in delicious affirmations of life, a surround of art that is, by virtue of its Ojibway source, line and colour describing fellow creatures from the phenomenal and spirit worlds, at once personal and universal. It is a good thing that the book is hardbound because it will be read over and over by children and adults.

As we meet Grandfather Sun and Grandmother Moon holding up the sky, bathing the wakeful and sleeping Earth in light, lectures on matriarchy and world balance are made redundant. This is all we need to know. It is within the grasp of every child and every adult who listens and watches because the illustrations light up child world, a room with no walls. Just Meet Your family. Gikenim Giniigi’igoog. It is right in front of us, the real theory of relativity, no mystery, just a simple homily.


Tuesday, April 12, 2022

Just ONE book

It takes one book to create a reader. Just ONE book. The book has to be accessible and inclusive. It's our job to get the right book into the hands of prospective readers - This short clip speaks to a perfect book for an indigenous adult or youth or a person interested in Indigenous culture.

Thursday, April 7, 2022


Maria Montessori taught us that it takes three things to create readers, time, a hero and books. This clip speaks to the third of the three: the need for books. Not surprizing, it takes books but what kind of books?

Saturday, April 2, 2022

Wanted: HEROS

Maria Montessori should be trusted. She taught us that to share the gift of reading it takes time, a hero and books. In my last blog, I spoke to the time she tells us it takes. In this, I briefly address what Maria describes as the need for a hero in the process. We all have to recognize our status with our youth and step up to the plate. We, parents, educators, family members, bus drivers...anyone and everyone who has contact with youth has to take on the responsibility of helping these students acquire the gift of reading...no, reading is not a tool but rather, a gift.

Wednesday, March 16, 2022

Am I a conspiracy theorist

Have we been manipulated into thinking that reading is a science that can be applied to everyone - when we choose to apply it? It certainly how we perceived it to be in the See Dick - See Jane era.... How can we be hanging on to that outdated strategy that has failed so many for so long. Is there really a programme that will create readers out of anyone and everyone? Or was Maria Montessori right in her belief that reading is as simple as walking and talking? Marlene Barron nailed it in 1990 but something seems to have blocked her path to truth. Might it have been greed? Money? Check out her I Laen to taed andwrt the wa I laen to tak -

Wednesday, March 9, 2022

Ukrainian folk song - senseless war

I speak to conferences, classes and parent groups. And as I do, I can't rid myself of the dark shadow cast by the senseless killings and heartbreaking suffering of so many Ukrainians. When I lie in bed waiting for sleep to take me, I always think of the many who are hungry and cold - the tens of thousand who are witnessing the destruction of their homes and families and their way of life. Then I spend much of my day listening to why the world cannot stand and face this monster head on and say no more. I wouldn't be a good leader as I am not good at doing little to nothing on most things. There is right and there is wrong. There are, it seems more than ever, those who see conspiracies in everything. I am not among these and find it maddening that ignorant theories can be spread as so many suffer - suffer in a real world. I look forward to someone taking the lead and calling this maniac Putin's bluff. Russians will not allow him to destroy two countries.

Monday, February 28, 2022

A gift for educators and parents - THE GIFT OF READING

What has happened to common sense in our world? I'm not talking about the world pandemic although I could go on at lengths if I thought it would make a difference. I'm not talking about climate change, fires and floods. I'm not talking about the indifference shown toward the thousands of murdered children being located near residential schools. (Excuse me but this horrific crime should be on the front page of every Canadian newspaper every day. The growing number has to be highlighted and shared. Canada's shared humiliation has to be in our collective forefront.) And no, I'm not talking about the last several years south of our border that make Canadians so happy to live here north of there. And finally, the craziness in Ukraine... tragic killings/murders that we witness on a daily basis. No - this post is based on common sense and in it, I will focus on reading. Common sense as I see it: Change will not happen if we keep doing the same thing again and again. In education, we are committed to teaching based on standardized tests whose purpose is clearly to support curriculum. This is how it is. This is how its always been. I am not the first to suggest that we should teach students and not curriculum. There was a brief time that report cards reported on students - not a letters or numbers or other symbols that indicated how well students faired next to the curriculum but rather who teachers believed students to be and reported on their growth. That initiative failed. We turtled back to that safe place of doing what had always been done. We teach "reading" as we did decades and decades ago. Don't look any further than standardized tests that haunt and hurt so many. Numerous academics, educators and parents have voiced objections to this archaic practice. Yet millions invested in training educators on how to administer and work with tests as well as the actual purchasing millions of tests have deep, strong roots. Maria Montessori laid out a clear path to created readers. But this path necessitated change. Education rejected and continues to reject her advice and direction. In our book, The Gift of Reading, Wendy and I lay it all on the table. Clean. Simple. Honest. I will post a series of three short clips outlining Maria's philosophy. Educators and parents - apply this plan in any way you see fit. Even if you pick and choose, you will be doing those under your care a great gift; the Gift of Reading.

Sunday, February 27, 2022

Stuck at home during this world pandemic? Discover Richard Wagamese.

 Richard Wagamese - not a great Ojibway author...rather, a great author

Is there a better time than now, when you are being forced to stay home, to experience the gift of one of Canada's greatest authors, Richard Wagamese. 

And by reading Richard's work, you will become a part of the healing necessary as directed by the recommendations of the TRC. 

Richard's writings are a safe and good starting point for anyone who is wanting to learn about the the 60's scoop, residential schools, Ojibway (Indigenous) values and beliefs...

Knowing both the man and the writer, I will recommend two books, his first and my favourite. 

Keeper'n Me - his first novel and wow, what a start!

Can you imagine growing up not only not knowing your birth parents, but not knowing your community - 

Richard takes us back to the beginning...the challenges/battles he faced growing up in a world of confusion and unanswered questions. 

This is Richard's story and it is the story of so many who were taken from their homes and placed in situations that our colonial government assessed as being in their best interest. You need not go back to Canada's first Prime Minister who spoke of taking the Indian out of the Indian. We have evolved but maintain so very much of that hateful and hurtful energy. 

Keeper'n Me opened my eyes to so much. Try it if you haven't already. 

Ragged Company - my favourite of his many 

Over the years, Richard and I spoke at a few conferences together. At one such conference in Edmonton, Aaron Paquette (friend/artist/author/now city counsellor) handed me a signed copy of Ragged Company to give away. I didn't. I kept it and had Richard sign it to my wife. It was her favourite. I gave out one of  my own books that was greatly appreciated. My late Mother used to say, "what you don't know won't hurt you". I applied it to this situation. I felt guilty and still do. 

In an attempt to get in out of the cold, four street people pool what little money they have and begin to frequent local theaters for matinee movies. In one of the theaters, they come across a finely dressed gentleman who becomes key to the plot of Richard's story. 

One day, one of the four finds a pack of smokes that not only has half the cigarettes left but includes three twenty dollar bills - sixty dollars and a lottery ticket. What they did with the cash, you can likely demise. However - the  ticket? How does a  person cash in a  lottery ticket if they have no proof of existence? No licence. No social insurance card. No credit card.  Nothing! What then? 

Back to the well dressed guy from the theater. 

And then? 

Friday, February 25, 2022

Liars - Haters and those who should be standing up to them...

When did the word misinformation take the place of the word we used to use, lies. I prefer lies. And haters? People who spread lies are called haters. But let's be clear, these haters are also liars. Everyone, including countless Russians, know that Putin is a liar. He is lying and spreading hate for his own sick, personal ambition. It is known and yet, so many are standing by doing nothing or saying nothing and I find that sickening. Sharing a similar plot but on a smaller scale, I have been subject to hate and lies. Over ten years ago, a group of people collaborated in finding something that might discredit me, information that would put into question my Indigenous bloodlines. They threw their lies out on Twitter and let it brew its nasty roots. I immediately responded to their posting but they disappeared knowing that the damage had been done. I posted my genealogy of the front page of my website for anyone who had questions. That posting is still there. Ten years later, their lies live on. Sadly, we (Canadians) often turtle and choose not to stand up to these hurtful haters. I am at a place in my life where these misguided people can spread their hate in as many forms as possible. They don't want to hear truth. They want to hurt and spread hurt through malicious gossip without taking the time to look into what they heard, from whomever, whenever. There are, however, many young people whose lives and careers are being attacked as I was - as I am. For these people, please stop the hate. Gossip is wrong. Talk to the source and have the courage to act on what you believe is right. This clip is two minutes of me ranting and pleading with good people to stand up to haters and liars. The world has enough problems without world leaders being allowed to lie, hate and eventually kill. It starts small and ends up with... I am not ready to roll over and go away. This I post for my Grandfather, my Mother and my children - shown in the posted picture.

Sunday, February 20, 2022

Each student is unique. Our collective mandate is to help students under...

The fourth of four video clips outlining how I begin a presentation to students, educators or parents. This one speaks to the fact that every person is unique/one of a kind. We should be treated as such and we should teach children as such. It is well past the time that we teach to a curriculum, regardless of how good it seems to be. We must learn to identify the gift in every child and teach to that gift. Only then will schools become the sanctuaries they are meant to be. Only then can we fully understand and share the meaning of respect.

Friday, February 18, 2022

Mental Health - a daily discussion

Canadians almost always begin every event with a land recognition. Finally and rightfully so. Canadians should begin every event remembering and grieving for the thousands of innocent children who were murdered while attending residential schools. A thought for all newspaper publishers: Regardless of the content in your daily newspaper, update an orange banner in the top left hand corner with a number - an ongoing number count depicting these innocent, murdered children. In this short clip, I outline the third of four topics I try to speak to in every presentation I do: mental health. Mental health is not something that should be addressed on one day of the year. It is a dark cloud that shades many facets of our society and schools are seriously affected by our not aggressively addressing this important topic.

Thursday, February 17, 2022

Inviting the murdered residential school children

We absolutely must keep the thousands of murdered residential school children alive in our daily discussions and ceremonies. Few events in Canada today, including major sporting events, take place without land recognition. In the same vein, the thousands of children whose bodies are being discovered (in some cases recovered) absolutely have to be included in our daily lives and ceremonies. When I present to schools or educators or parents, I begin by recognizing the land on which I live and from which I present. I then speak to, directly to, the thousands of murdered residential school children and through a song on my flute, invite them to be a part of our sharing learnings and stories. This video clip speaks to that invitation.

Tuesday, February 15, 2022

A brief overview of my work since Covid

We are all learning to cope since the start of the pandemic. The work I did as a conference/school presenter was pretty straight forward.

This short clip is to outline where I am working from today, to whom my teachings apply and what in a general way you might expect from me...

Friday, February 11, 2022

2022 and I'm still at home

 Covid remains. 

Omicron continues to run rampant and although it's milder than earlier stands, it remains a serious threat to so many. The movie Mad Max doesn't seem as far fetched as it once did. 

I am a million mile flyer and yet... I have not flown for over two years for fear of catching or spreading (or both) some variant of Covid 19. This pandemic has changed the world, possibly forever. I am fortunate enough to be among  those who knew the world then - when. 

Today, I am home working from my shack (pictured here) in the company of my border terrier George and friends that I am making online.

Zoom, Teams, Meet and a growing number of new platforms have become the norm through which I share stories, my learnings and my teachings with students, educators and parents. Funny thing that, my work has hardly skipped a beat. Educators have been quick to pick up on the new reality of how to inspire students. My agent Chris has also adapted. He has created a number of accessible options for different groups. These can be accessed here: http://davidbouchard.com/speaking/presentations. The fee structure is also available online at: http://davidbouchard.com/speaking/fees

Is social media as good, better or not as effective as in person presentations? 

They both have their advantages but overall, my on-line  presentations are better than school visitations or conferences that would have me fly in, rent a car, book a hotel and eat in restaurants for whatever time I would be on tour. 

We are all learning and becoming proficient in on-line meetings. I am projected onto a screen or onto classroom computers/whiteboards and teachers are learning to optimize the sound and that is very important. I can usually see and hear participants which allows for personal and intimate interactions. 

Over the next week or two, I will share a few short clips that show what I do in almost all my presentation, prior to getting into the specifics of whatever the session is about (i.e. reading, books, culture, traditions, etc...) 

I start with a land recognition. 

Next, I speak directly to the growing number of missing residential school children and I invite them to join us. 

I rarely miss an opportunity to address the reality and seriousness of  mental health. 

And I never miss the chance to remind participants of their uniqueness and how the focus for each of us must be to embrace that uniqueness and learn to use our special gifts.