Mistassiniy School, Desmarais/Wabasca, Alberta
Aaron A. Lehman, March 7, 2012
On Wed. March 7, I had a unique and wonderful experience at Mistassiniy School. Upon arrival, my wife and I were greeted welcomed to the school by Office staff and greeted by Dave Dumont, the teacher organizing the event. I mean event! I was treated as the famous author of Mystery on Dog Island. Students had been prepared for my presentation and were anticipating my arrival. There were about 50 students from Grade 6-9, seated in the drama room and the media teacher and students gave me instructions and helped me put on a remote microphone. They were making a video of my session and the DVD would be available in the library. I would receive my own copy later. Am I nervous or what? Dave gave me a warm welcome and then introduced my books. He had prepared a list of my characters on a display board and had given each a one or two word description. Opposite each, he had the Cree words. The liaison worker for the school then pronounced the Cree word and the students had to say it with her. Dave gave his rendition to much laughter. He did very well. I need a lot of practice!
Next, I had another new experience. After reading a children’s book to warm up the audience, Dave proceeded to read Chapter one of Mystery on Dog Island to the students. It is different to listen to your writing being read by someone else. He probably did better than I did. I was introduced and then the teacher nature took over and I proceeded with my presentation. I did some reading from all three books, but they liked it best, when they discovered in North of Dog Island, that their towns, Wabasca , Desmarais and Sandy Lake were actually mentioned in a book by a famous author.
After rounds of applause, I was presented with a small, moose skin drum, prepared by the art class and designed by a Grade 12 student. Wow! A very humbling experience. Later a grade 11 student, with her cousin, wanted to by a book for her mother from Sandy Lake. As it happens, her mother was one of my Grade 3 students in my first teaching job in the one room school with all 8 grades, at the isolated community of Sandy Lake. Today there is pavement to the town. The girls were very gracious listening to us tell about their grandparents and mother.
I nearly walked off with microphone still attached and was surprised with a cheque for mileage and an honorarium. A great day for an author from northern Alberta.
Aaron A. Lehman
Dave Dumont – Teacher
Shirley Fayat – Art teacher – Drum project
Danika Manybears – Grade 12 student – Design and painting on drum
Edna Orr – Liaison worker – Cree words