Historic Book Launch

Pīsim Finds Her Miskanow, book launch

Pīsim Finds Her Miskanow, book launch

WINNIPEG, MB – In 1993, the remains of a young woman were discovered at Nagami Bay, Southern Indian Lake, Manitoba. UWinnipeg’s English Professor and Canada Research Chair in Young People’s Texts and Cultures, Mavis Reimer, has been working with a collaborative team of UWinnipeg scholars, public archaeologists, an Aboriginal storyteller, educators, and illustrators over the past five years to develop a picture book about a week in the life of a young Cree woman who lived in Northern Manitoba in the mid-17th century*. The book Pīsim Finds Her Miskanow will be launched this Thursday, September 19 at 7:00pm at the Manitoba Museum, 190 Rupert Avenue.

This unique story is based on that important archaeological discovery and was created by renowned storyteller William Dumas. Pīsim begins to recognize her miskanow – her life’s journey – and to develop her gifts for fulfilling that path. The story is brought to life by the rich imagery of Leonard Paul, and is accompanied by sidebars on Cree language and culture, archaeology and history, maps, songs, and more.

“What sustained us over the development of this project was, first, our understanding that a commitment had been made to tell young people about the old ways through the story of Kayasochi Kikawenow (Our Mother from Long Ago, the name given to the woman by Cree elders) and, second, the compelling narrative William was weaving about a time when the Rocky Cree people were healthy and strong and thriving in this place,” says Reimer.

Kevin Brownlee, Curator of Archaeology at The Manitoba Museum, was one of the first people in 350 years to see the tools found with the young woman’s remains and played an important role in shaping this collaborative project.   “I truly believe that I was part of the group selected by this woman to tell her story,” says Brownlee. “I felt we had to be respectful in telling her story. The elders said everything happens for a reason. This woman is showing herself to educate the youth because they’re starting to lose touch with their culture and history.”

Other key participants include teacher Margaret Dumas and UWinnipeg English Professor Deborah Schnitzer, who organized the field-testing of the story in northern Manitoba-and Winnipeg-based classrooms; community members from South Indian Lake: Keith Anderson, Clayton Spence and Fanny Spence; UWinnipeg historians Jennifer Brown and Roland Bohr; and UWinnipeg anthropologist George Fulford.

About the Author

William Dumas, a Cree Elder, was born in South Indian Lake. He spent his early childhood living on the land where he developed his love of storytelling. For the past 25 years, he has been an educator and administrator; his passion for the Cree language and culture are well aligned with his current position as Cree Language and Culture Coordinator for the Nisichawayasihk (Nelson House) Education Authority.

About The Illustrator

Leonard Paul was born in Halifax, Nova Scotia. His art has been shown around the world and is found in many galleries and print collections. He has received numerous awards, including the Governor General’s Award for Visual Arts, and his artistic vision has been explored through documentaries by both the National Film Board (Canada) and the CBC. A long-time mentor, teacher, and leader of First Nations youth, Leonard is currently working on a book of legends of his own people, the Mi’kmaq.

HighWater Press is a trade imprint of educational publisher Portage & Main Press. HighWater Press focuses on titles that contribute to the understanding of the Canadian experience in all its diversity, publishing high-quality fiction and nonfiction for readers of all ages.

 

MEDIA CONTACT

Naniece Ibrahim, Communications Officer, The University of Winnipeg

P: 204.988.7130, E: n.ibrahim@uwinnipeg.ca

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