In celebration of Read Local Month authors Bev Sellars and her cousin Willie Sellars will give a special presentation next week on First Nations storytelling and traditions.
The event takes place at the Williams Lake Band gymnasium at Sugar Cane starting at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, April 21.
Both Bev and Willie will also discuss the impact of residential schools on Aboriginal culture and traditions as well as the power of storytelling in healing and recovery.
Willie is the author of the popular children’s book Dipnetting with Dad, featuring illustrations by Kevin Easthope.
The book was nominated for a Shining Willow Award this year and received a “best bet” designation from the Ontario Library association in 2014 along with other accolades.
Set in the beautiful landscape of the Cariboo Chilcotin region, Dipnetting with Dad is a delightful and colourful story of a father teaching his son the Secwepemc method of fishing known as dipnetting, notes the book biography.
Together they visit a sweat lodge, mend the nets, select the best fishing spot, and catch and pack their fish through rugged bush back to the family home for traditional preparation.
Kevin Easthope’s contemporary and dynamic illustrations bring the characters to life as they jump off the page and pull you into their world.
Bev is the author of They Call Me Number 1: Secrets and Survival at an Indian Residential School, about the impact of abuses that she and her family experienced at the St. Joseph’s Mission School.
The book won the George Ryga Award for Social Awareness in Literature and was shortlisted for the Hubert Evans Non-Fiction Prize.
Bev recently resigned her post as chief of the Xats’ull band at Soda Creek to pursue a passion that she has put aside for many years.
She is deep into writing her second book that is scheduled for completion by September.
Her new book will be all about the contributions that indigenous people around the world, and Canada and North and South America in particular have made to the modern world.
Themes run from knowledge about medicine and transportation, to language and Inuit methods of surviving in sub-zero arctic temperatures.
Bev holds a law degree as well as an undergraduate degree in history with a minor in political science.
She says she was encouraged to go into law, when she decided to return to school in adulthood, but that her first love has always been for history.
When it comes to language Bev says there are more than 2,000 words and place names that we use today that have been taken from indigenous cultures.
Some of these include familiar words such as moose, caribou, kayak, canoe, possum, chipmunk, cougar, hurricane, chinook, blizzard, Kamloops, and place names such as Nanaimo, Alabama and Arizona.
Even the name Canada is derived from the Iroquois word that means village, she notes.
Sellers says her new book will also talk about how indigenous people moved from total control of their own worlds to being completely dominated by other cultures.
The book will also examine how the Indian Act doesn’t recognize that there are distinct differences between coastal, interior and prairie people, just as there are distinct differences between English, Welsh and Irish peoples.
And she will examine where indigenous people are today and what their hopes might be for the future.
When she worked for the B.C. Treaty Commission, Sellars says it became clear to her that a lot of people at the table, including indigenous people, had no idea why they were there because so much of the understanding of the past had been lost.
She hopes to help rectify that problem with her new work.
Part of that work started with the creation of the Moccasin Footprint Society to collect and record knowledge of First Nations people.
She also plans to develop an informational web page to help teachers incorporate First Nations understanding into their curriculums.
The first annual Read Local Month is a province-wide awareness campaign in support of B.C. published authors, independent booksellers and libraries.
From April 1-22, Read Local BC unites 23 publishers, 300 authors, 60 speakers and presenters, 50 bookstores and 40 libraries to celebrate the talent of B.C’.s writers. B.C. produces more than 800 books every year, many of which win national awards alongside larger publishing houses.
April provides a time for all members of the public to find out more about the award-winning stories and hundreds of fantastic authors in their own backyards.