Cast off to fishing season with three fishy tales designed to get you hooked
On May 1, staff and students of Wagmatcookewey School gathered for the launch of the newly released Unama'ki Institute of Natural Resources (UINR) book entitled in Pemi’kwe’k Milipunqekl Plamu: Swimming Through the Seasons.
The children’s book, written in Mi’kmaq and English, combines traditional knowledge and the most current scientific research to tell the story of salmon (plamu) as they hatch from their eggs, make their way in Middle River to the Bras d’or lake, the open ocean, and back to Middle River.
“We had to really think like children to ask what we would want to know and how we would want to know it. It went through a few drafts before we could get it to the point where we felt comfortable that the kids would understand what we were trying to say,” said UNIR Director of Aquatic Research and Stewardship Shelley Denny, following the launch. Denny was joined at the launch by co-authors and UINR Research Assistants Angela Denny, Emma Garden and Tyson Paul.
“I think we really tried to get into the minds of children. Especially with the younger life stages [of the salmon], we tried to make it playful and to connect with them at that level,” said Garden.
“With salmon, there’s so much relevant information,” added Angela Denny. “It’s hard to narrow it down and try to capture the audience. It was a little challenging, but we managed to get through it.”
Some characters in Pemi’kwe’k Milipunqekl Plamu: Swimming Through the Seasons will be familiar to readers of other UNIR childrens books, similar to the ‘easter eggs’ found in popular children’s movies.
“You know how in Pixar movies there are little things from each of the other movies? That’s the context where we have characters from the other books. They’re not the focus of the book, but they’re there. That’s fun for kids, if they have read the other books. It creates continuity. And then, also, seeing us in the books, like Tyson,” said Garden.
“That’s me fishing in there,” said Paul. “We do adult fish counts, and our smolt wheel is in there, too.”
Research on the lives of Middle River salmon is ongoing. The team recently announced the installation of a smolt wheel on Middle River. The device will catch Atlantic salmon smolts to estimate their abundance and monitor fish populations. The book will be updated to reflect any new discoveries.
“It depends on what comes from the research. As we learn something new, we will have to update it. It’s not fiction. The speaking part is the fiction part. Other than that, it’s non-fiction.”
All UINR children’s books (The Oyster Garden: Kiju' Tells Her Story, Tiam–this is Our Story, Kataq: Journey of our Eels) and other UINR publications can be viewed/downloaded here: http://www.uinr.ca/ library/publications/.
Wagmatcookewey student Miguel Bernard (centre) accepts the draw prize of a salmon from Unama’ki Institute of Natural Resources (UINR) Executive Director Lisa Young (right) and Director of Aquatic Research and Stewardship Shelley Denny. Young, Denny and...