Logo Title Quebec Reading Connection

Shi-shi-etko

LaFave, Kim (Illustrator)
Groundwood Books 2005. 32 pages
First published: 2005
ISBN: 9780888996596 (hardcover)
9781554982332 (e-book)
Original language: English
Book type: Picture Book

Text Elements:

character, characterization, conflict, point of view, setting

Awards

TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award – Finalist – 2006
Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award – Finalist – 2006

Reading Range

 
Cycle
Elementary
Secondary
 
1
2
3
1
2
ELA
K
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL Intensive & Enriched
5
6
1
2
3
4
5

Description:

This beautifully illustrated book shares with readers the emotional impact of Canada’s policy on assimilating First Nations children into Western culture, language and values through its residential schools. It tells the story of a young girl, a few days prior to moving far from her family to attend one such school. The author includes a short introduction explaining why residential schools were created, providing context for the story. The richness of Indigenous culture is revealed through the main character Shi-shi-etko, who visits her favourite places and does all of her favourite activities as a way of imprinting them in her memory, fearful that she will forget them while she is away.

The language is poetic in its telling of this defining moment in Shi-shi-etko’s life, and dialogue is used extensively. The tone never dissolves into anger or bitterness, but rather allows the reader to come to his or her own conclusions. The illustrations are reminiscent of the Group of Seven. Autumnal colours flow throughout as Canada’s wilderness is brought to life.

The book’s sequel, Shin-chi’s Canoe, provides additional information about the residential school experience.

  •  

    Discuss Shi-shi-etko’s feelings as she counts down the days to her departure. Support your answer with examples from the text.

  •  

    Discuss why Shi-shi-etko did not take her memory bag with her. List items you would put in a memory bag, and share it with the class.

  •  

    Write about a memorable experience from your first day at school. Imagine how Shi-shi-etko would feel on her first day. What advice would you offer?

  •  

    Create your own life timeline using pictures (photos or found) that represent achievements or special moments for each year since you were born. Write a word or a sentence describing each memory. Share your timeline with the class.

  •  

    Create a timeline of what Shi-shi-etko did in the four days before going to the residential school. 

  •  

    Sort nature words in a graphic organizer: plants, animals, minerals, natural world. Circle your favourites in each category.

  •  

    Learn about the structure of a Haiku poem. Build one with nature words from the book, adding pictures that echo your poem. Include it in a class poetry anthology.

  •  

    If you had to leave your home, what would you want to do with your family and friends before leaving?

  •  Discuss the Indian residential schools. (See the introduction on the first page.)
  •  Imagine moving away from your family, friends and community. Keep an ongoing list of things or people you would miss.
  •  Research the poem, “I Lost My Talk,” by Mi’kmaq poet Rita Joe. Find other poems or short texts about the loss of culture and identity as a result of the residential school system. Write a journal entry to demonstrate your understanding and empathy.
  • To adopt effective work methods
  • To construct his/her identity
  • To cooperate with others
  • To exercise critical judgment
  • To use creativity
  • Citizenship and Community Life
  • Health and Well-Being
  • Geography, History and Citizenship
  • Science and Technology
  • Social Sciences