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Lennox Island band member shares stories of her culture in new children's book

Lennox Island band member Julie Pellissier-Lush has published her second book, Mi’kmaq Campfire Stories of Prince Edward Island.
Lennox Island band member Julie Pellissier-Lush has published her second book, Mi’kmaq Campfire Stories of Prince Edward Island. - Dave Stewart

Telling stories of her culture is deeply personal for Lennox Island band member Julie Pellissier-Lush.

The community consultant for the Mi’kmaq Confederacy of P.E.I. has just come out with her second book, teaming up with Summerside illustrator Laurie Martin on what she hopes will connect with children and their families.

Pellissier-Lush said Mi’kmaq Campfire Stories of Prince Edward Island is an extension of everything she is about and everything she tries to teach, whether it’s on her visits to Island schools or part of her role with the Mi’kmaq Heritage Actors.

It’s about stories that have been passed down from generation to generation. Martin’s drawings add vibrancy to the storytelling.

“These are stories that are really close to my heart; stories that we do as part of the Mi’kmaq legends," said Pellissier-Lush, who is also Prince Edward Island's poet laureate. “There are so many stories out there."

The themes resonate throughout the book — everyone and everything, from people to animals, from land to the air, are all equal.

The book tells the creation story, about where the Mi’kmaq people came from.

It tells the story of the Legend of Little Scarface, a story Pellissier-Lush felt was timely in today’s world.

“It’s about a little girl who believes in herself enough to let that little light in her burn, even when the bullies in her village and her family are against her and hurting her," she said, drawing comparisons to the kinds of pressures today's youth face online.

“If one child reads this and realizes that the light inside them is special, no matter what people might say to them; no matter how they might be treated by other people; that they are still valued ... A lot of times I think our youth don’t get a chance to feel that important anymore."

There’s also a chapter in the book that attempts to empower children — no matter what a person’s size is, anyone can change the world.

“It’s a reminder that no matter who you are, if you have a passion and a heart and a love, you can change the world. It takes one person at a time. If you are here, there is a reason you are here."

Pellissier-Lush’s first book was published in 2009, a story about her Mi’kmaw mother, the connection they shared and the impact of losing her. She said it only told part of her story and she hopes to write more in the not-too-distant future — about living off the Island, coming back and reconnecting with the elders and learning the Mi’kmaq history and culture all over again.

And, there are more children’s books to come, explaining that Mi’kmaq stories are like the grains of sand on Island beaches — there is no end to the possibilities.


Need to know

Information about Julie Pellissier-Lush’s latest book, Mi’kmaq Campfire Stories of Prince Edward Island:

  • $13.95 to purchase.
  • Available at Indigo, The Bookmark and online at Acorn Press under children’s books.

Twitter.com/DveStewart

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