Stories of Our People/Lii zistwayr di la naasyoon di Michif: A Métis Graphic Novel Anthology
by Norman Fleury, Gilbert Pelletier, Jeanne Pelletier, Joe Welsh, Norma Welsh, Janice DePeel, Carrie Saganace
Published by the Gabriel Dumont Institute
Review by Marie Powell Mendenhall
Price: $30.00 CDN ISBN: 978-0-920915-86-8
[Ed. Note: SPG believes every school and library in Canada should have this book on their shelves.] Five illustrated stories in this graphic novel anthology mix Michif and English to blend Cree, Ojibway, and French-Canadian folklore. This anthology seeks to create a bridge between the oral storytelling tradition and print with illustrated stories, retold in prose versions, followed by transcripts of interviews with the storytellers. As well, two essays provide an introduction to the cultural stories, and references suggest further resources.
The first story introduces three trickster characters: Chi-Jean, Wiisakaychak, and Nanabush, on a visit to Mother Nature. Later, Chi-Jean appears again in the humorous story a Mooshum (grandfather) tells a group of children.
In most of these stories, ordinary characters meet extraordinary ones, including some darker creatures: roogaroos (shapeshifters or werewolves), whiitigos (cannibal spirits), and paakuks (flying skeletons).
Sometimes foolish or unwitting actions attract these supernatural forces. In one story, for instance, reckless living causes two young men to attract the attention of li Jiyaab (the devil). In another, whipping a grave with a horse whip causes an unexpected haunting.
Protection against natural and supernatural disaster comes from the wisdom the elders, or li vieu (Old People). Whether giving a charm to ward off whiitigos or taking action to settle restless spirits, li vieu know how to handle the situation.
Stories of Our People was compiled from stories told by several elders, and their brief biographies with sketches appear at the back of the book. Other material collected during this project can be found on “The Virtual Museum of Métis History and Culture” website (www.metismuseum.ca).
THIS BOOK IS AVAILABLE AT YOUR LOCAL BOOKSTORE OR FROM WWW.SKBOOKS.COM