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Books of the Week: Legends of the Sechelt People

Legends of the Sechelt People

The Sechelt Nation, a division of the Coast Salish family of First Nations, originally occupied the southern portion of what is now known as the Sunshine Coast of BC. At the time of contact with Europeans, the shishalh (Sechelt people) were a populous and peaceful people occupying some 80 scattered village sites. Estimates of original population range from 5,000 to 20,000, but by the time of the first official census in 1881, the Sechelt population had plunged to 167, mainly due to introduced diseases. In this century, the band staged a remarkable comeback. Today the Sechelt are one of Canada’s most progressive First Nations groups, running a number of successful businesses. In 1986 the passage of Bill C-93 made the Sechelt Indian Band the first in Canada to achieve self-government. The band now numbers more than 1,000 members, about half of whom live on band lands.

Chaskin
Ch’askin -A Legend of the Sechelt People by Donna Joe and illustrated by Jamie Jefferies. Ch’askin is the great thunderbird whose appearance heralds rumbling thunder, a darkening sky and flashes of lightning — as well as good luck for the people of the Sechelt Nation. This compelling book recounts how this enormous and awe-inspiring bird — who looks like a golden eagle except much, much larger — aided and protected the members of the Sechelt villages for many years in many ways. From helping Chief Spelmu’lh, the father of the Sechelt Nation, build both the first longhouse and the many villages of his people, to delivering goats and grizzly bears for the hungry people to eat and creating islands from pebbles for the tired Sechelt hunters to rest, the story of Ch’askin is a story of protection, friendship and respect for fellow living beings.

salmonboy
Salmon Boy -A Legend of The Sechelt People by Donna Joe and illustrated by Charlie Craigan. These traditional teaching legends come straight from the oral traditions of the Sechelt Nation. Simple enough to be understood by young children, yet compelling enough for adults, they are gentle, beautifully presented cautionary tales. You’ll want to read them again and again – and you’ll learn a few words of the Shishalh language while you’re at it. Charlie Craigan is a young Sechelt artist who works in a tiny studio set up in his bedroom. He studied traditional wood carving with Sechelt Nation carvers, but learned to draw and paint by studying books.

Mayuk
Mayuk the Grizzly Bear -A Legend of the Sechelt People, illustrated by Charlie Craigan. These traditional teaching legends come straight from the oral traditions of the Sechelt Nation. Simple enough to be understood by young children, yet compelling enough for adults, they are gentle, beautifully presented cautionary tales. You’ll want to read them again and again – and you’ll learn a few words of the Shishalh language while you’re at it.

redbreast
How the Robin Got its Red Breast -A Legend of the Sechelt People, illustrated by Charlie Craigan. These traditional teaching legends come straight from the oral traditions of the Sechelt Nation. Simple enough to be understood by young children, yet compelling enough for adults, they are gentle, beautifully presented cautionary tales. You’ll want to read them again and again – and you’ll learn a few words of the Shishalh language while you’re at it.

About the Author – Donna Joe
Donna Joe, Sechelt Nation. Donna is an acclaimed author of Sechelt legend children’s books and is a member of the Sechelt Indian Band on the beautiful Sunshine Coast of British Columbia. As a child she used to go fishing with her mother and father, Marjorie and Cyprian August. In 1953 she began attending residential school and went on to complete a Bachelor of Education at the University of British Columbia (NITEP). She went on to earn a master’s degree and found work with the Sechelt School District and Sechelt Indian Band as Supervisor of shashishalhem (the Sechelt language). Donna and her husband Vern have three children and five grandchildren

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