The Tiny Voyageur
MNO citizen authors children’s story on Métis history
Citizens and staff of the Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) know Rebekah Wilson very well. Not only is she a proud citizen who worked at the MNO as a communications and registry assistant, she was also an indigenous dancer in the opening ceremonies of the 2010 winter Olympics. A Sheridan Institute of Technology Alumni, Wilson currently works for Motivate Canada as a GEN7 Program Coordinator. Adding to this list of accomplishments, Wilson has now become a successful author.
Wilson recently authored a children’s book entitled The Tiny Voyageur: A Young Girls Discovery of Métis History. The story is beautifully illustrated by her father Jeffrey Wilson and is also available in French.
While a fun story that children will love, it is also educational as it promotes and explains Métis history and culture. Specifically the synopsis states: “A curious young girl, who asks her grandmother to tell her a bedtime story about her Métis ancestors, goes on an adventure of a lifetime back in time. In her dream, she learns about Métis traditions, the Michif language, accompanies her great-great grandfather on a fur trade and brings back and very special souvenir from the past.”
The story is greatly inspired by Wilson’s late great grandfather Rudy Couture and his journey of identity.
“He hid his Métis heritage for many years as it was something he was taught to be ashamed of,” explained Wilson. “In his early 80s, he began to speak about his own family history …For the remainder of his life, my grandpa Couture was fiercely proud to be Métis. He was a huge part of the inspiration behind the book because seeing how proud he was made me proud to be Métis as well.”
The idea for the story arose when Wilson was working on a project while a journalism student at Sheridan College.
“We were asked to create a fictional project about the part of our history that we most identified with,” explained Wilson. “I had learned about my own Métis heritage about four years before and felt a strong connection to my roots so I chose to write this story. I had a lot of great feedback on it, and in turn applied for funding from the MNO and it has been such an exciting and worthwhile process!”
Wilson is thankful to the MNO for providing funding that helped her make the concept of the book into a reality. Wilson received funding through MNO’s Métis Culture Based Economic Development Grant (MCED) program. This grant is available to MNO citizens seeking to launch an arts or culture related career.
Wilson hopes that her book will create a greater awareness about Métis history and heritage in young people.
“I'm so proud of my Métis roots and I want others to feel the same,” stated Wilson, “and for those who are not Métis, just for them to get an idea of the culture and know who we are.”
Wilson’s book already has one big fan, MNO President Gary Lipinski.
“It is great to see our youth in touch with their Métis heritage,” said President Lipinski, “this is yet another example of Métis youth succeeding and becoming all they can be. We are very proud of Rebekah.”
The Tiny Voyageur and its French counterpart La Petite Voyageuse were officially released on January 29, 2014. Both editions of the book are available for purchase on Wilson’s website at http://www.rebekahwilson.ca/
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