Setting the record straight
March 07th, 2013
As a child I didn’t know anything about our history or culture when I received a book by Isabel M. Reekie entitled Red Paddles about two young boys in Burrard Inlet at the time of the 1886 Vancouver fire. I hail from the Musqueam First Nation. One of our ancestral village sites situated in present day Stanley Park is described as the home village of the aboriginal boy in the story.
I’ve looked at various sites where the book is up for sale and see that they describe it as having “historically satisfying content.” This is not so; one of the events described involves the boy arriving home to find his family is holding a Hamatsa ceremony that evening. The Hamatsa is a hereditary ceremony of the Kw’akwakawakw (formerly known as Kwaguitl) people of northeastern Vancouver Island (i.e. Alert Bay/Kingcome Inlet). They are our traditional enemies. That ceremony would never have occurred in Burrard Inlet or anywhere else in Coast Salish territory. Such a depiction is offensive to our people and I’m sure just as much so to the Kw’akwakawakw to whom the ceremony belongs. It’s very troubling to see that the book is recommended by these various internet sites as suitable for students in grade 5 and up. The misleading content of school curriculum regarding aboriginal people has been a bane to us for a very long time.
I apologize for dumping this all in your lap, but your website is the first one I’ve found that makes provision for feedback. I’m writing this in the spirit of setting the record straight and if it’s not within your purview perhaps you could steer me to a site that’s more suitable to my concern.
Musqueam First Nation
[We have posted this letter on our entry for Isabel Reekie that appears on the abcbookworld reference site that does not contain any of the misleading information cited above. –ed.]