IN HONOUR OF OUR ELDERS: ESSAYS BY THE CHILDREN OF CURVE LAKE RESERVE AND QUOTATIONS FROM ELDERS
Edited by Georgia Elston
Reviewed by Patricia Fry.
Reviewed by Patricia Fry.
Volume 20 Number 2
In Honour of Our Elders is a companion book to Giving: Ojibwa Stories and Legends from the Children of Curve Lake (Waapoone Publishing, 1985). The book of legends gave the children of Curve Lake Reserve an opportunity to retell stories from their cultural heritage. In Honour of Our Elders was designed to give the children a chance to write about the influence of elders in their lives.
Originally it was also designed to give the elders an opportunity to write about their life experience and subsequent knowledge, but that idea didn't come to fruition because giving advice in that manner violates the fundamental native belief in non-interference. It is considered rude and in bad form to advise, instruct, give orders or, in any shape or form, tell another person what to do directly. Thus, the elders did not respond to the editor's request for material. Finally, Elston reproduced some of their words from other sources, such as lectures, conferences and conversations. She begins the book with an apology to the elders for her initial lack of understanding.
The book includes a preface, which explains that elders are old in the sense of life experience they have acquired along with a special wisdom and distinct way of passing this knowledge on to others that earns the people's respect. Young native people are still trained to listen carefully when someone else is speaking, especially an elder.
There are approximately thirty entries from children, but at least half of these consist of only two- or three-sentence entries from Kindergarten students. These youngsters appreciate the same kindnesses that attract all children to their grandparents and adult friends: shared experiences such as fishing trips, new skills such as cooking lessons, and special treats such as ice cream bars. The older students are able to write in essay style about the importance of elders in their lives. These entries are interspersed with about ten italicized quotations from elders.
A librarian who had purchased the companion volume, Giving: Ojibwa Stories and Legends, might be interested in adding this book to the collection. However, it has very limited use with the current elementary school curriculum.
Patricia Fry, Port Credit, Ont.
1971-1979 | 1980-1985 | 1986-1990 | 1991-1995
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