kā-āciwīkicik/The Move is a moving story inspired by the forced relocation of the Chemawawin Cree Nation to Easterville, Manitoba, told in both Cree and English by Cree educators Doris George and Don K. Philpot.
Displaced from their ancestral home, an old couple stands inside their new house, which is surrounded by a barren and rocky landscape. While the old man is resigned to “living out their days” in this new place, “stuck … for good,” the old woman is anything but fatalistic. Raised by her grandmother, “a diviner who knew how to speak to the spirits, wish for things, and change the way things were,” the old woman continues to hope.
Her yearning and memory are so strong that she begins to manifest that which she longs for – moose hides and trees, and rotting wood to smoke fish. Black ash trees plant themselves into the ground around their new home, and the couple set up their smoking station outside. This attracts their daughter and grandchildren to come for a visit. Eventually, the old woman manifests birch and maple trees for making baskets and maple syrup candies, and berries used for baking bannock.
The thunder and land answer, enabling the couple to continue their traditions and pass them on to their grandchildren. Their new place grows lush and brings community that allows Indigenous knowledge to live on. In the end, the old woman reflects, “It’s good here.”
The themes of memory and intergenerational power are beautifully incorporated in the illustrations by Alyssa Koski, a member of the Kainai Nation. The art conveys the old woman’s longing, the joy of family, and the fierce power of the land. Two palettes clearly delineate time: one is muted to signify the past, and the other is the vibrant present, which gradually becomes more animated as the old woman’s longings are answered.
A tale that reflects Cree oral storytelling, filled with repetition for emphasis and learning, kā-āciwīkicik/The Move demonstrates the power of hope and ancestral memory in resisting the ravages of colonization. It provides a powerful lesson for readers and Cree language learners alike.