Mona tapokwaniwan e
sekwak mina mona
There is no trapping or hunting
in the spring.
Sekwan, which in Cree means “It is spring”, focuses on the changes one can observe occurring during that season. On each page, the text, which is in both Cree and English, is separated by a full-colour photo. The book begins by noting the rise in temperature which, in turn, causes the snow to melt and icebound lakes and rivers to thaw creating muddy conditions. Adults begin to engage in yard work, and school recesses allow outdoor play. Migrating birds return, trees bud and newly-born animals emerge. Most of the facing pages are connected in terms of their content, and so the content of the excerpt above is paired with a text that reads:
There is only duck hunting.
The excerpt was accompanied by a photo of the backs of two hunters while the facing page photo was of a male mallard duck.
The book concludes with a “Glossary of Cree Words” which repeats the book’s text. Unfortunately for non-Cree speakers, there is no pronunciation guide.
Though much of the content of Sekwan’s text would apply to urban settings, the photographs make it clear that Fontaine is describing spring’s arrival in more northern rural areas containing forests, lakes and rivers. With a couple of exceptions, most notably the closing pair of pages which inform readers that “Spring starts March 20" “And ends June 21", the colour photos are effective in reflecting the text.
Though Sekwan was created primarily to assist Cree children in building their vocabularies in their natal tongue, the book also presents readers in more urban areas with a different and fresh take on spring’s arrival.
Dave Jenkinson, CM’s editor, lives in Winnipeg, Manitoba.