This past December, an Ojibwe translation of a popular childrens’ book about a young boy helping turtles safely cross a busy road has been published by the Long Point Biosphere Reserve (LPBR). The translation was a collaboration with the Ojibwe-speaking Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation, whose Treaty Lands and traditional territory include the LPBR.
Entitled “Kaa Wiika Boontaake” (“Never Give Up”), the colorful book tells the story of little Johnny’s determination to protect his friend “Snapper” and other turtles from heavy traffic. Written and illustrated by Long Point cottager Jan Everett, the story is based on her husband John’s efforts to save turtles along the Long Point Causeway, the unofficial gateway to the LPBR.
“Recognizing the significance of the turtle in Indigenous culture, we approached the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation (MCFN) to help us translate the book into Anishinaabemowin, the common language of the Ojibwe, Odawa and Pottawatomi peoples of the Three Fires Confederacy”, said LPBR president Rick Levick. An Ojibwe First Nation, the Mississaugas of the Credit have been allied to this Confederacy for more than 200 years.
The translation was done by James “
Mawla” Shawana (Odawa/Pottawatomi from Wiikwemkoong First Nation), a language teacher at the Lloyd S. King Elementary School in the MCFN community near Hagersville, Ontario for the past 12 years.
“The Mississaugas of the Credit would like to thank the Long Point Biosphere Reserve for reaching out to our First Nation”, said Chief R. Stacey Laforme. “Our shared collaboration will allow students at the elementary school in our community to enjoy a special experience — reading this popular children’s book in Anishinaabemowin.”
Chief Laforme added, “Collaborations such as these are small but important steps on the journey of reconciliation, miigwech (thank you).”
Since 2014, more than 3,500 English and French copies of the book have been sold with the proceeds supporting on-going maintenance of exclusion fencing and wildlife culverts that were installed along the Causeway to reduce road mortality of turtles and snakes including several Species at Risk.
“The story of Johnny and Snapper parallels the 10-year, $2.7 million effort by the Long Point community that reduced reptile deaths on the Causeway by nearly 80 per cent”, said Levick. Details about this effort and the role of the LPBR are included in English at the end of the book.
Never Give Up was translated in 2019, the International Year of Indigenous Languages but publication was delayed due to the COVID 19 outbreak.
“We are honoured that our book “Never Give Up” can now be enjoyed in Anishinaabemowin. This truly is a book for children of all ages”, said author Jan Everett and husband John.
Plans are underway to launch the book with a virtual reading by author Jan Everett and translator James Shawana to the students of Lloyd S. King Elementary School.
The LPBR will be distributing free copies of Kaa Wiika Boontaake to other Anishinaabe communities across Ontario and offering it for sale at www.longpointbiosphere.com.
The Long Point Biosphere Reserve promotes research, monitoring, community outreach and education, partnerships, and projects that support the goals of biodiversity, conservation and sustainable communities in Norfolk County. We exchange information and work collaboratively with the Canadian Biosphere Reserves Association, as well as other biosphere reserves in Canada and around the world.
The Mississaugas of the Credit are an Ojibwe (Anishinaabe) First Nation with 2,600 band members, of whom approximately 800 live on the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation near Hagersville, Ontario. For more information please visit www.mncfn.ca.
The Never Give Up book is now available in the Turtle Guardians online store