In present-day Nova Scotia, a young Mi’gmaq girl hears an important story from her uncle.
Now that she is old enough, Ashley enjoys walking home alone after school, taking time to look for pretty stones and other treasures. One afternoon, Ashley recognizes her uncle where the train station used to be and runs to greet him. As they stand near the overgrown, weedy tracks, he tells her he is waiting for the train. Ashley can’t help but giggle, as she knows no train has traveled here for many years. But Uncle’s eyes tear up, so she asks him why he is so sad. Uncle then tells her the story of when his mother, Giju’, sent him and his siblings to meet the train as they often did when it arrived with rations from off the reserve. However, this time Giju’ made sure they took their winter coats and cried because she knew what they didn’t: that their lives would be changed forever. The children were herded onto the train and taken to a residential school, where their identities were stripped away. Even now, decades later, Uncle goes to the track to wait “for what we lost that day to come back to us.” Through Uncle’s story, Callaghan (Mi’gmaq) presents a harsh topic in a gentle way. Lesley’s soft color palette and expressive characters blend beautifully with the story without lifting its heaviness.
Keeps a critical memory alive. (glossary, note) (Picture book. 4-8)