Montreal writer pens illustrated ebook on Tlicho canoe journey
The annual trails of our ancient naval voyage are the way to many young people in Tlicho.
Each year, about 100 people spend 10 days traveling between communities, learning about riders, and living on land.
Nadine Neema explains that in many ways the journey changes.
“They start to learn about themselves and their culture and live in its place, in ways that, I think most of them have never been before,” he said.
Nadine Neema is the author of Journey of a Traveling Girl. The story is told through the daily journals of 11-year-old Jules as he embarks on his annual ancestral journey from Wekweeti to Behchoko. photo courtesy of Leslie Kenny.
In her new book, Journey of Traveling Girl, Neema transforms and transforms the journey that encourages an 11-year-old, Jules as she travels from Snare Lake, Wekweeti to Behchoko to take part in the event in Tlicho in August 2005.
As Jules begins to pull his feet, he soon begins to appreciate Tlicho’s history and culture.
Neema said he wanted to create a barrier between educating readers of the 2005 Alliance – the first spatial agreement with government partners at NWT, and the second in Canada – when he had a fictional story that he expected the audience “loved to read.”
Neema spent many years at Wekweeti and started walking around the Ancestors Club twice.
The trip is both internal and physical, he said.
“It’s an exciting thing, and it’s one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done.”
When the leader of the Dechi Laot’i First Nation team in the early 90s and 2000s, Neema saw many of our Ancestors teams leave and return years ago. Later, as part of the Dogrib Covenant Group 11 Council, he also appeared on the sidelines where he helped prepare for Tlicho’s independence.
Nadine Neema says Trail of our Ancestors trip is a rite of passage for many Tlicho youth and in many ways, a transformative experience. Photo courtesy of Nadine Neema.
After the agreement was signed, Neema wrote a guest post on News / North about the importance of the claim and the celebrations that began to take place. John B. Zoe, Tlicho’s chief negotiator, later urged him to turn the weapon into a children’s issue. Neema liked the idea but did not know what to do.
It wasn’t until 2012 that Neema returned north from Montreal to board the trip. He returned the following summer. That’s when the issue came to a head, he said.
Neema has known many young people on this journey for the rest of their lives.
Seeing how they learn from the Adults and living in the same place and how the characters started to make up and the story that Zoe also mentioned years ago was fulfilled.
Neema said she sees her audience in two groups, Tlicho readers and others. He hopes that both parties can learn from the Alliance and that the Girl Scout Tour will inspire them to take a closer look at its importance.
He also hopes to “help them understand more about travel (travel)… and may encourage others to write down their experiences along the way.”
In addition to her work in the Tlicho area, Neema is also a professional musician. He released four albums, starring Elton John, Joe Cocker and Cyndi Lauper and was coached by the late Leonard Cohen.
Journey of a Traveling Girl is a book inspired by author Nadine Neema during her years living and working at Wekweeti. Photo courtesy of Leslie Kenny.
The Girl Scout Tour is available for purchase and Neema is also making an appointment which can take place on Tuesday November 24th.
The opening includes a reading, question-and-answer time, book submissions, and discussions with Tlicho Cultural and Land Protection Tammy Steinwand of Tlicho at 7 pm MT.
In the new year, Neema wants to visit Tlicho schools when she has the opportunity to read this book.
Although they could not go North for the 15th anniversary of the Tlicho Treaty, Neema hopes to return to the area next summer for the 100th anniversary of the 11th treaty and speculates that what could happen in the book could possibly happen there.
While Neema acknowledges that the task of writing the book has its challenges, and shares Tlicho’s culture and stories, she said, “it’s something I’ve always felt very privileged to have.”