Saskatoon author and educator Mary Harelkin Bishop wrote Mistasiniy: Buffalo Rubbing Stone with the hope that it would give readers of all ages a better idea of the concept of reconciliation - a path of respectfulness between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people in Canada.
It has been gratifying to see the book receive awards at the Purple Dragonfly Book Awards and Hollywood Book Awards, but the greatest gifts have come when students and teachers send messages about what they learned from reading this book.
Mistasiniy: Buffalo Rubbing Stone tells the story of Danny, who lives on a family farm homesteaded by his great-great-grandparents, and Zach, a Cree boy who lives in the nearby town. When their Grade 6 teacher assigns a Canadian heritage project in which students must write about their family histories, Danny is paired with Zach, the only Indigenous boy in the class. At first, Danny and Zach can’t seem to get along. Then Danny finds out that his great-great-grandmother’s journal talks of breaking the land and building and living in a sod house. She also tells of how the First Nations people in the area helped her save her infant son’s life by using traditional medicines when he was very sick. The more Danny digs into his family’s history, the more he realizes that his and Zach’s pasts are complicated and connected.
A Grade 5/6 classroom in Saskatoon recently read Mistasiniy: Buffalo Rubbing Stone and used a Literature Circles learning format. In images sent via a PowerPoint slideshow, the teacher shared with us what the class learned from this important book:
Students learned about Reconciliation from Mistasiniy: Buffalo Rubbing Stone book
Some of the valuable lessons the students learned from Mistasiniy: Buffalo Rubbing Stone by Mary Harelkin Bishop are:
- People can change.
- You should give everyone a second chance.
- Every child is different and has unique experiences.
- Everyone’s culture, race, and religion is valuable.
- Don’t judge someone based on their past.
- Everyone makes mistakes.
- We learned about marginalization and how it harmed Indigenous Peoples.
- It is important to learn about the true history of Canada, which has not always happened in Canadian schools.
- It is never too late to do the right thing.
- Reconciliation is learning to heal, learn and move forward together.
Thank you to the teacher and Grade 5/6 class for sending us their work and responses to this book.
Mistasiniy: Buffalo Rubbing Stone has been called “a must-read book for all youth” and a book that will help teachers become better teachers, kids become better friends, parents become better parents, and neighbours become better neighbours.
The author, Mary Harelkin Bishop, is a retired teacher who spent much of her career working in core neighbourhood schools. She has also been a teacher-librarian. Most recently, she was an educational consultant with Saskatoon Tribal Council, with a focus on helping students research and write the history of their families and reserves, and their hopes for the future.
Mistasiniy: Buffalo Rubbing Stone is available from www.driverworks.ca.
(ISBN 978-1-927570-32-6, Juvenile fiction, Ages 10 and up)
Schools and libraries should contact DriverWorks Ink directly for discounts on orders.