Publishing stories of fascinating Prairie People and Unsung Heroes

Welcome to the blog of Deana Driver - author, editor, and publisher of DriverWorks Ink, a book publishing company based in Saskatchewan. We publish stories of inspiring, fascinating Prairie people and unsung Canadian heroes - written by Prairie authors including Deana Driver. We also publish genres of healing and wellness, humour, children's fiction, and rural poetry. Visit our website to learn more about our books.

Thursday, March 18, 2021

An Important YA Book about Reconciliation

As I began to proofread a new e-book version of Mistasiniy: Buffalo Rubbing Stone, written by Saskatoon author Mary Harelkin Bishop, I intended only to quickly check the pages to make sure all the content was there.

That's my job, after all, as the editor and publisher of this and every other book I've produced.

But this is no ordinary book.

This is no ordinary story.

And this is no ordinary author.

The words of the book drew me in and I began to read... and read... and read some more.

Even though I've read these words of the Mistasiniy book a half dozen times already in my roles as editor and publisher, I needed to read them again. I was thrilled to be reminded of the great work that Mary and I have accomplished as partners in writing and publishing this and other books of Canadian historical fiction for young readers.

Mary wrote Mistasiniy as a follow-up to Seeds of Hope: A Prairie Story, her first book published with my company, DriverWorks Ink, in 2008. In Seeds of Hope, the main character, Danny, loves growing up on a family farm in Saskatchewan. He is learning about the difficulties of farm life while also dealing with some troubles at school with some other children who are bothering him.

A few years later, in the book Mistasiniy: Buffalo Rubbing Stone, a new teacher at the school pairs Danny with one of the Indigenous kids, Zach. Danny and Zach don’t like one another, but they’ve never bothered to get to know one another either. They have to work as partners on a school project in which they have to research and report on their families' histories of coming to Canada.

Neither of them is happy about this pairing, but Zach is especially unhappy.

The assignment raises emotions in Zach and he isn’t sure why.








Author Mary Harelkin Bishop has been a teacher, a teacher-librarian, and an educational/ instructional consultant with Saskatoon Public Schools and spent more than half her career working in core neighbourhood schools. She is best known as the author of the bestselling Tunnels of Moose Jaw series of Juvenile/ Young Adult adventure books (which my company, DriverWorks Ink, is updating and republishing).


In 2014, Mary earned a Master of Education degree. Her thesis was titled "Soul-to-Soul Teaching: Deconstructing Dominant Thinking in the Classroom". She has mentored young writers and adults as they work on their writing and find their voices. Most recently, she has been involved in a writing project with seven schools within the umbrella of the Saskatoon Tribal Council. Working in classrooms on the seven reserves, she has helped teachers and students research and write about their history.

Mary feels strongly that three of her newest books – Gina’s Wheels, Mistasinîy: Buffalo Rubbing Stone, and Skye Bird and the Eagle Feather – are all Calls to Action toward the Reconciliation of all Canadians.

Mistasiniy: Buffalo Rubbing Stone received Honorable Mention in the Young Adult categories of both the 2017 Purple Dragonfly Book Awards in Michigan and in the 2017 Hollywood Book Festival which recognizes books that would make great films or movies. Gina’s Wheels and Skye Bird and the Eagle Feather have also won several awards, including Skye Bird being named one of the Best Books for Kids and Teens in 2018 by The Canadian Children's Book Centre.

Mary Harelkin Bishop will continue to write books for young people aimed at helping young readers, teachers and parents have conversations about the Calls to Action, Reconciliation and relationship-building within all of our communities.

DriverWorks Ink will continue to publish those books.

Order your copies today from http://www.driverworks.ca/shop.html


*****

Reader comments about Mistasiniy: Buffalo Rubbing Stone:

“A must-read book for all youth. This touching novel told from two youth perspectives of courage and hope, brings together a First Nations and non-First Nations family who demonstrate the true spirit of Reconciliation.”

 - Joanna Landry, Coordinator, First Nations, Inuit and Metis Education, Regina Catholic Schools

 

“I was ready to recommend this book to teachers even before it was published. I hope that it will impact the way teachers connect with Indigenous children.”

 - Amy Basaraba – FNIM (First Nation, Inuit and Métis) Consultant for Saskatoon Public Schools

 

“Teachers will read this and become better teachers. Kids will read it and become better friends. Parents will be better parents and neighbours will be better neighbours. Families are honoured.”

- Lorraine Chapman, Grade 3 teacher, Saskatoon, SK




Friday, March 12, 2021

A Family Connection or Just a Good Story

I meet the neatest people in the course of my work as a writer and book publisher.

A gentleman in British Columbia contacted me about a fascinating pilot I should interview for Volume 3 of the Flight book series about people involved in Canadian aviation.


I agree that this man's stories are fascinating and worthy of recording and publishing in my book series. But that's not the cool thing that happened today...

The gentleman I spoke with is Harry Driver. Yes. Driver. Same last name as mine. No relation to my family as far as I know.

Or is there?

Although we've never met and never spoken before, Harry joked that he says this about me: "At least we have one talented person in our family!"

I laughed and replied that I only joined the Driver family by marriage (45 years ago), but I will gladly accept his compliment.

Then Harry and I talked a little about our respective Driver family histories.

Harry's family story is one of three Driver brothers - Charlie, Art and Fred - who came to Canada from England. A fourth brother died in the war.

My late husband Al's grandfather also came to Canada from England. I joked that we might be related. I told Harry a story about how Al and I watched an episode of the TV show "Who Do You Think You Are" many years ago in which actress Minnie Driver was searching for her family's roots.

Near the end of that show, a photo popped up on the TV screen showing a man who was related to Minnie. My husband Al quickly stopped the TV recording we were watching and ran from the room. He came back in carrying a photo of what I swear was the same man - or perhaps a twin of the man on the TV screen! This man in the photo Al was holding was a relative of his grandfather, I think, but we were never able to corroborate that because Al's father had passed away and his mother was unable to verify the details.

Al and I mused about possibly being related to a celebrity and then carried on with our lives. We never got around to searching his family's genealogy.

After speaking with Harry Driver of B.C. about the gentleman he thinks I should interview - Doc Payne - I typed up a few notes about our conversation plus what we agreed were the next steps in the process of getting this story for Volume 3 or 4 of the Flight book.

As I was typing, it hit me - Art!

One of Harry's relatives was Art Driver! Al's grandfather was Arthur Driver!

I grabbed our children's baby books to find our family tree details. Arthur Driver of our family came from a different community in England - three hours north of when Harry's family originated. Is there a connection? Could they be from the same family? Or is it fluke? Or a coincidence? Or just a happy conversation about possibilities?

As a follow-up to our conversation, Harry kindly sent me a family history that one of his cousins compiled. His family's Arthur is not from my family's direct line, but their Arthur and his two brothers served in the First World War at Vimy Ridge and Passchendaele (Al's grandfather also served) and they all returned to homestead in Saskatchewan. A small world indeed.

After our conversation, Harry invited his family historian cousin to share some of her research with me.

I then received a detailed email from Harry's cousin Mary, who included some letters she received from Driver families in Saskatchewan whom she contacted in 1978 when researching her family's history.

Among them was a nice surprise - a letter in my late father-in-law's handwriting as he stated "I DO NOT KNOW IF WE ARE RELATED. THE ONLY INFORMATION I HAVE REGARDING MY ANCESTRY GOES BACK TO MY GRANDPARENTS." (Dad always wrote in beautifully sculpted capital letters.) He then relayed information about his family's background - which at first glance appears to not be from the same family tree, but Mary explained that "Driver" is a common name in England and if I can trace my husband's family back to a certain town in England, there is a possibility that we are relatives.

Mary then went on to tell me another connection to me or, more specifically, my work as an author and book publisher. Mary lived in southern Saskatchewan before moving to British Columbia. Her father's cousin is related to Graham Warner. "I am familiar with your book Never Leave Your Wingman and the story of Dionne's brave struggle with cancer. I was sorry to hear of her passing recently. What a legacy she left!"

It's been a wonderful series of communications that began with a possible story for the next volume of the Flight book and our conversations are only beginning. I'
ve invited myself to visit these Drivers in B.C. the next time I am in that region visiting my sister.

It seems fitting that the last word should go to my new friend and possible relative many times removed, Mary Driver, formerly of Saskatchewan: "It is a small world, isn't it?