A member of the Gitxsan Nation in British Columbia uses his singular perspective to craft this debut picture book about the life cycle and environmental impact of the sockeye salmon.
The narrative follows a sockeye salmon from birth to death, describing each phase of its life and culminating in the fish’s swimming upstream to spawn and die. While there is much literature about the remarkable migration of salmon, this tale succeeds in linking this natural phenomenon to the cultural practices of the Gitxsan and their interpretation of the seasons. The story also emphasizes the migration’s ecological importance. Readers are told that the small sockeye’s “life cycle not only nourishes the people and other beings along the watersheds, it is the whole reason the forests and landscapes exist.” The book is clearly written, and Huson is not shy about using a sophisticated vocabulary, supplementing many passages with definitions or explanations to help readers digest the information. In addition to the scientific terms, readers are introduced to Gitxsan words, phrases, and ideas (“New snow, which the Gitxsan call dalugwa”). The pictures by debut illustrator Donovan are beautifully rendered, reminiscent of ink-and-brush work, and make use of imagery from Pacific Northwest cultures. The book closes with a brief description of the location and practices of the Gitxsan, along with a map.
An excellent addition to curriculums that tie scientific principles to cultural practices; the work should be embraced by libraries to help educate readers about the Gitxsan.