Nicola Campbell is an award-winning author of such titles as Shi-shi-etko (2006 Anskohk Aboriginal Children’s Book of the Year winner) and Shin-chi’s Canoe (winner of the 2009 TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award). Paired with illustrations by Carrielynn Victor, Stand Like a Cedar shines brightly, in both its text and artwork. The lyrical prose demonstrates an authentic Indigenous world view. The love for the land, love for the winged ones, the fish, the four-legged ones, the trees, the sky, the water, the air, and the love for the people are evident. This is not only a picture book but also a wonderful introduction to Ne7kepmxcín and Halq’emeylem languages.
The journey in Stand Like a Cedar – going for a canoe ride, walking across the land through the changing seasons – is shown through a child’s eyes. The book asks, “Who did you see, who did you hear?” as the reader, along with the child in the book, learns not only the Ne7kepmxcín or Halq’emeylem names for various animals but also the teachings the animals and the land provide us with.
Carrielynn Victor’s full-page illustrations are warm and bright, matching the text beautifully. The love and care taken with the languages are also very much evident within this title. Stand Like a Cedar includes a glossary with Ne7kepmxcín, Stó:lō Halq’emeylem, and Syílx (Okanagan) Nsyilxcǝn phrases and words, phonetic pronunciation, English translation, and a translation guide. Also included is a note explaining that in B.C., many of the Indigenous languages are critically endangered.
As Campbell notes, “when we need to remember our promises, we stand like cedar trees, hands raised to the sky.” This tender story offers many lessons and gently teaches that we are all related. Children are reminded to take care of each other and to take care of the land, to honour and be thankful for all Earth’s creatures.