Shi-shi-etko by Nichola Campbell is a book about residential schools aimed at 4-8 year olds. Yes, that might seem shocking. But, the book isn’t about the horrors of residential school history per-say. Rather it focuses on the last “four sleeps” (in kid language) before Shi-she-etko leaves for residential school. She collects her memories for safe keeping while she is away. And that is where the story ends.
As an adult reading the books, we know what probably happens next … but for a child it is a way to understand what is lost by Shi-shi-etko leaving her community. – It is a conversation starter, and part of our responsibility following the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and as a church who has prioritized working towards right relationship with Indigenous peoples.
Besides the fun books and the familiar books, I would like a few of these on my shelves –books that ask new questions, that bring up new ideas. Maybe we can leave a few of the old ones behind …
For some more books suggestions for children about residential schools see CBCs list of books found here.