Contributed by Colette Poitras (Métis Nation of Alberta)
Welcome to the third edition of From Sea to Sea to Sea: Celebrating Indigenous Picture Books, featuring 25 of the finest books by First Nations, Métis and Inuit creators published between 2020 2022. I am delighted to introduce you to the collection with the hope you will make these fine books part of your summer reading—and help IBBY Canada promote use of the collection from sea to sea to sea.
Curating the Collection
By way of background on curating the collection, bi-annually a selection committee is formed, comprised of Indigenous and non-Indigenous librarians, authors, and children’s book experts with a variety of experiences and backgrounds including writing, teaching with, and/or acquiring children’s picture books.
(Many thanks to the selection committee—and all involved in bringing From Sea to Sea to Sea to life! Please see the special shout-out to them later in the newsletter.)
The books in this collection, and all three collections(!), were all chosen with care by the committee and exemplify the highest quality titles—in both the text and illustrations—by First Nations, Métis and Inuit creators who are geographically disparate and representative of the literally hundreds of Nations throughout the country (truly “from sea to sea to sea”).
We make sure that each title is authentic in its representations—and that each creator’s Nation is listed. Attention is also given to making sure to include books that support and promote Indigenous languages. And, ultimately, that the final collection reflects authentic voices and offers insight into the distinct histories and current realities of the creators’ communities.
Of interest, for each of the last two editions of the catalogue, there were almost 100 books vetted. This demonstrates that representation matters and that publishers are working hard to make sure there is adequate representation. More than ever, there are more titles being published by Indigenous creators. However, there is still a dearth in Indigenous representation within books in general. But there are definitely strides being made within the industry to correct that, and I am appreciative of that.
Reading the Collection
Every child deserves to see themselves represented positively in the books that they read. As well, non-Indigenous children deserve to see Indigenous children and cultures represented positively. This creates tolerance, empathy and understanding. It was important to the selection committee that the titles didn’t just tell historic stories—although those are welcome! We also wanted to show contemporary situations of folks living their best life in the present day as well.
I think Indigenous librarians, teachers and caregivers will embrace the catalogue. The beautiful cover art and summaries should help with the selection of books. The Nations of each creator is also listed, which should also help when selecting titles. Non-Indigenous librarians, teachers and caregivers can rest easy knowing these titles have been selected for their authenticity, beauty and message.
Additionally, it is important to incorporate reading these titles at every opportunity, not just during Indigenous Peoples Day. For instance, if there is an event celebrating nature, you could feature great Indigenous titles, such as Stand Like a Cedar by Nicola I. Campbell and Carrielynn Victor. Or, if you are having a story time about animals, you could select We All Play by Julie Flett.
These are just a couple of examples of the ways anyone can incorporate these lovely titles into year-round programming or story times.
Enjoy! I encourage you to read all 25 books—and to stay tuned for events and promotions to come!
Colette Poitras is a proud citizen of the Métis Nation of Alberta, mother of two beautiful daughters, and the Indigenous Public Library Advisor for Public Library Services Branch, Government of Alberta. Colette has worked in a variety of positions within the library field over the last 20 years. She believes strongly in early literacy and the bonding between reader and listener that happens during story times. Colette is the current chair of the From Sea to Sea to Sea: Celebrating Indigenous Picture Books.