Guest post from Jennie EagleSpeaker
I’ve always had a passion to be forward thinking in my learning, asking hard questions and try to understand where people come from. I’m an East Coast Canadian (Maritimer) who moved to central Alberta to become a Child & Youth Care Counsellor. There I accomplished my goal, met & married my husband and have a wonderful blended family along with our two sons. My husband is Blackfoot & Duwamish and I am learning about my heritage which is Irish, Welsh and partially unknown. Like most multi-cultural families, we had some steep learning curves and some harsh realizations about what our children would be subjected to and how they would be treated. Something my husband was already accustomed to which I learned about was that our sons did not have a lot of accurate, authentic representation of themselves in Indigenous picture books.
Indigenous persons are often stereotyped or categorized into large indistinct groupings with no self-identity. They are more than “Indian” or First Nations or Native American…they are Blackfoot, Haida, Mi’kmaq, Kiowa, to name just a few… with their own traditions, customs, and languages.
I’ve been writing poetry and have been a photography hobbyist since my teen years. Having a husband who writes and also publishes (www.eaglespeaker.com) was a catalyst to propel me onto this new path. I worked in the Social Services field going on twenty years and being able to raise both my sons while still being within my career has been a huge blessing. My life path is progressing and evolving. Writing allows me to still teach, to still be creative, to still engage people and to still grow. All the while being an advocate for diversity, inclusion, and representation of my son’s culture in books.
Indigenous picture books that promote diversity
Teeias Goes To A Pow Wow was my first written book which includes my own photography. It was a way to alleviate some of the mystery of these events and make them more welcoming. Teeias will continue as the subject matter in a series. Topics will continue to push the envelope of stereotypes and showcase various sides of his cultural identity – for example, Boys With Braids and My Culture is Not a Costume as potential upcoming topics.
Please Don’t Hide My Vegetables is about my younger son’s, Shiloh, adventures. It is written in a more toddler-friendly, poetic, learning-to-read style. Again, my photography is used. He too will be showcased in a series that has him engaged in childhood discoveries and learning.
Both my boys have embraced seeing themselves in print. They get excited about new books to be read at bedtime where they can see themselves or see subject matter reflect who they are and what their family history is a part of. Teeias’s book has been utilized as a teaching tool in his school and the local CBE school district as well as being available in the Calgary Public Library. Shiloh’s book is front and center in regards to healthy eating, urban gardening and the seed to table movement. Everyday activities that embrace having a Blackfoot child as the key subject matter.
Ways to connect:
Facebook: Eagles Nest Day Home
Amazon for purchase/reviews: bit.ly/jennieeaglespeaker or www.eaglespeaker.com