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Local Métis Like Me book resonates

By June 7, 2024No Comments
Author Tasha Hilderman, a co-owner of Home Hardware, is helping people reconnect and learn about Metis culture in her first book, Métis Like Me, for young readers three to six. Hilderman will be at Coles in the LloydMall on Saturday for a book signing starting at noon. Supplied Photo

 

Lloydminster author Tasha Hilderman is the child in her own book, Métis Like Me. 

She says she didn’t feel connected to her culture growing up and wasn’t sure if she ever would.

“Growing up, my family—I knew we were Métis, but we really didn’t know what that meant and we weren’t really connected to a lot of our culture,” she said.

Hilderman notes it wasn’t safe and it was frowned upon to be Métis, so there were not a lot of cultural traditions passed along from one generation to the next. 

Now that she has her own kids, she wants to learn more about it and came up with the idea to write a children’s book for readers three to six years old.

“The title just kept coming to my mind, Métis Like Me and other people who grew up not connected to their history. That’s where the idea came from,” said Hilderman, who also co-owns Home Hardware.

She will be at Coles in the Lloyd Mall this Saturday for a book signing and she recently attended the Treaty 6 and Métis flag raising at College Park to connect further with her family roots.

“It’s been amazing to see how much more my children are learning about Indigenous culture and history than when I was growing up, and now, Métis Like Me will be a part of that, too,” she said.

Hilderman plans to attend the Métis Fest at Métis Crossing in Smoky Lake, Alberta on June 22 and Back to Batoche Days in Batoche, Sask. on July 21. 

Locally, she is all set to do a reading of her picture book for toddlers at Midwest Family Connections on June 11 and is working with the Lloydminster public and Catholic school divisions on a reading plan.

Métis Like Me was released on April 2, from Tundra Books and illustrated by Risa Hugo, and is a CBC bestseller.

It’s billed as a joyful story that encourages empathy and affirms identity,

The book starts with a simple question: “Are you Métis like me?” 

There are illustrations of young people of Métis descent who answer that by revealing a Métis custom such as sewing beads on moccasins, picking Saskatoon berries, making bannock, and fishing.

Beaded designs and floral motifs appear throughout, making it clear that the characters are immersed in nature. 

The book also serves as a reminder there are many different ways to be Métis.

“Even if you didn’t grow up knowing or practising some of the traditions, it’s never too late,” said Hilderman. 

The book also serves as a reminder that even if you aren’t part of a specific culture, you can enjoy learning, experiencing and celebrating it. 

An author’s note explains that Métis, French for mixed, refers to those descended from First Nation women and European fur traders.

Hilderman is a registered member of the Métis Nation of Alberta.

She says her book is well-timed, knowing publishers are really interested in Indigenous books right now because there has been a lack of Indigenous titles, especially children’s books.

“I think Canada-wide there’s really been an interest and a desire to learn more, especially since all the Truth and Reconciliation Calls to Action,” said Hilderman.

“There’s kind of a general cultural realization that we didn’t learn a lot about the truth of Indigenous history and now Indigenous authors and artists are being the ones to tell their own stories.”

Hilderman is also mentoring Bishop Lloyd Middle School Métis student, Sadey Bruce-Kopperud.

The youth won first place in this year’s Caring for Our Watersheds competition and wants to write some Métis books for the school curriculum.

“She’s an amazing kid,” said Hilderman.

“So I just kind of gave her some history, a backstory on the kind of information publishers are looking for right now and how to format things a bit.

“Her and I will be able to work together a little bit more and help her come up with some things for her own books.”

Métis Like Me is also available online at Chapters-Indigo, McNally Robinson, Amazon independent bookstores and Home Hardware.

Hilderman’s second book, Lights at Night, about the northern lights, will be released in August 2025.