A new children’s book series by a Syilx and Nlaka’pamux author is teaching kids about the importance of water as a living entity and how to protect it.
“It was significant and important for me to write this series because water is life. I wanted to create awareness of water practices and policies, to ensure that it’s protected,” says author Harron Hall.
The four-book series, titled Follow the Water, will launch on Feb. 5, and marks Harron’s publishing debut.
“I’m excited about the launch because I’ve been working on this series for two years,” Hall says.
But this project is more than just books for kids — it’s part of a broader effort to bring Syilx knowledge into classrooms.
In the beginning, Hall didn’t think she would be the one writing the book series.
“I actually didn’t think the proposal was going to be accepted, because that was my first time writing a proposal.”
Hall says she and her team from the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen (RDOS) came up with the idea to write the series, in partnership with the En’owkin Centre and Theytus Books.
“It is essential for these types of projects to be supported [by the En’owkin Centre] in the spirit of reconciliation,” says Tracey Kim Bonneau, En’owkin’s manager of arts, culture and adult higher learning.
The Follow the Water books are being integrated into the curriculum for students from kindergarten to grade five.
“I wanted to create educational materials for everyone in the Okanagan Valley because there’s such a dire need for it,” says Hall.
The project involved collaborative work integrating Indigenous traditional science perspectives and knowledge in prescribed learning outcomes and objectives for students as required by the new B.C. curriculum.
“Students will be able to learn the science associated with nsyilxcen methodologies, as they specifically relate to water through stewardship documents, along with newly developed materials that will serve as teaching tools,” Bonneau says.
A teacher’s resource guide, which will be made available to Okanagan school districts, is also being published to complement the series, Bonneau explains.
All four books in the series were written by Hall with illustrations by Syilx artists Shianna Allison, Ron Hall, Phyllis Isaac and Bill Cohen.
The books are being published by Theytus Books, a leading North American publisher of Indigenous voices owned and operated in partnership with the En’owkin Centre.
The series includes: iʔ siwɬk w nk w ancinəm k̕əl suliʔ (The water sings to suliʔ), meant for kids ages five to seven, kəxntim sʕanixʷ k̕əl nixʷtitkʷ acxʷəl̕xʷalt (We go with Muskrat to those living underwater), for readers seven to nine years-old, skɬp’lk’mitk w (The Water Changeling), for readers nine and 10, and kʷu‿c̕əx̌ʷəntim təl stunx isck’ʷuls (Lessons from Beaver’s Work) for kids 10 and 11.
Following the February launch of the series, En’owkin Centre and RDOS will host a series of Follow the Water classroom presentations for students.
Editor’s note: Tracey Kim Bonneau is reporter Athena Bonneau’s aunt. At IndigiNews, we take journalistic independence seriously, adhering to the Canadian Association of Journalists Ethics Guidelines. Due to Bonneau’s role at En’owkin Centre as the manager of art, culture and adult higher learning, which is key in program development, we felt it was important to include her perspective in this piece.