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The Sockeye Mother
Cover of The Sockeye Mother
The Sockeye Mother
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To the Gitxsan people of Northwestern British Columbia, the sockeye salmon is more than just a source of food. Over its life cycle, it nourishes the very land and forests that the Skeena River runs through and where the Gitxsan make their home. The Sockeye Mother explores how the animals, water, soil, and seasons are all intertwined.

To the Gitxsan people of Northwestern British Columbia, the sockeye salmon is more than just a source of food. Over its life cycle, it nourishes the very land and forests that the Skeena River runs through and where the Gitxsan make their home. The Sockeye Mother explores how the animals, water, soil, and seasons are all intertwined.

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About the Author-
  • Hetxw'ms Gyetxw (Brett D. Huson) is from the Gitxsan Nation, an Indigenous people from an unceded territory in the Northwest Interior of British Columbia, Canada. For the past decade, Brett has worked in the film and television industry, and has volunteered for such organizations as Ka Ni Kanichihk and Indigenous Music Manitoba. Growing up in a strong matrilineal society, Brett experienced and learned about the culture, land and political landscape he was born into. From this came a passion to create and share the knowledge and stories of his people, which reflect the importance of environmental balance and a cultural knowledge that spans thousands of years.

Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from January 22, 2018
    Writing in lyrical prose, Huson, who belongs to the Gitxsan Nation, honors the sockeye salmon as a resource and potent symbol within Gitxsan culture: “Little does this small sockeye fry know that its life cycle not only nourishes the people and other beings along the watersheds, it is the whole reason the forests and landscapes exist.” He describes the journey of a young sockeye from the river to the Pacific and back again to spawn, incorporating (and defining) vocabulary words related to salmon ecology, including semelparous (“breeding only once in a lifetime”) and keystone species. Donovan, a member of the Métis Nation of British Columbia, incorporates masklike images into her dynamic spreads, as well as motifs of flowing currents, plumes of campfire smoke, grasses, and tree bark. Huson eloquently conveys the fragile interconnectedness of the natural world and the moral imperative to protect it. Ages 10–14.

  • School Library Journal

    Starred review from April 1, 2018

    Gr 3-6-Gyetxw, also known as Brett D. Huson, has penned a moving meditation on the life cycle of the Sockeye salmon from the perspective of the Gitxsan people of Northwestern British Columbia. This beautifully illustrated book captures the growth of salmon from fry to full maturity and beyond. The Sockeye salmon are a keystone species along the Xsan (Skeena) River. Each section of the book highlights how this fish shapes the life of the people and animals along the Xsan. Vocabulary words are highlighted on each page with clear definitions. Gyetxw is a member of the Gitxsan nation and his passion and love of his culture is evident in the care with which the text has been written. Donovan, a member of the Métis nation, uses rich colors and bold lines to create stunningly detailed scenes of Xsan river life-readers will not be able to look away. VERDICT A wonderful exploration of science and culture with many ties to curricula. A top selection for nonfiction collections.-Meaghan Nichols, Archaeological Research Associates, Ont.

    Copyright 2018 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Kirkus

    April 1, 2018
    A member of the Gitxsan Nation in British Columbia uses his singular perspective to craft this debut picture book about the life cycle and environmental impact of the sockeye salmon.The narrative follows a sockeye salmon from birth to death, describing each phase of its life and culminating in the fish's swimming upstream to spawn and die. While there is much literature about the remarkable migration of salmon, this tale succeeds in linking this natural phenomenon to the cultural practices of the Gitxsan and their interpretation of the seasons. The story also emphasizes the migration's ecological importance. Readers are told that the small sockeye's "life cycle not only nourishes the people and other beings along the watersheds, it is the whole reason the forests and landscapes exist." The book is clearly written, and Huson is not shy about using a sophisticated vocabulary, supplementing many passages with definitions or explanations to help readers digest the information. In addition to the scientific terms, readers are introduced to Gitxsan words, phrases, and ideas ("New snow, which the Gitxsan call dalugwa"). The pictures by debut illustrator Donovan are beautifully rendered, reminiscent of ink-and-brush work, and make use of imagery from Pacific Northwest cultures. The book closes with a brief description of the location and practices of the Gitxsan, along with a map.An excellent addition to curriculums that tie scientific principles to cultural practices; the work should be embraced by libraries to help educate readers about the Gitxsan.

    COPYRIGHT(2018) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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    Portage & Main Press
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