Publisher Profiles: The Work of Cultural Retention
by Collette Parks
Remembering the past is an important part of ensuring a culture survives. Saskatchewan publishers are individuals and unique organizations working tirelessly to record and remember who we are as a people.
Based out of Regina, Les Éditions de la nouvelle plume is the only French publishing house west of Winnipeg. Many of their books for younger readers are developed with Fransaskois or the French immersion schools, and those books always have a Saskatchewan theme. Titles such as Le trésor du Wascana and Les fântomes de Spiritwood, by Martine Noel-Maw, feature subjects set in Saskatchewan that catch kids’ attention.
“We publish a lot of literature for young children, middle years, a few novels, and several collections of French plays. French theatre is thriving in Saskatchewan right now,” says Laurier Gareau, President of Les Éditions de la nouvelle plume.
“Our mission is to foster a better understanding of the French Canadian community in Western Canada, especially in Saskatchewan.”
Gabriel Dumont Institute (GDI) in Saskatoon has a similar mission for the Métis community: “The Institute pays keen attention to this side of its mission and has produced over 160 Métis learning resources and publications as the only Métis specific publisher in the world,” says Karon Shmon, Director of Publishing. “Our books are distinctive because the topics are about Métis history and culture, and the authors and illustrators are primarily Métis as well. By design, we ask ourselves, ‘How might this publication be useful as an educational resource?’”
Road Allowance Kitten, by Wilfred Burton and illustrated by Christina Johns, is a children’s book based on a true story of the forced removal of Métis people from their homes. Many GDI books feature English and Michif, and introduce young children to reading and to Métis culture.
Saskatchewan publishers do more than just celebrate and appreciate cultural diversity; they ensure cultural retention.