Canadian icon Buffy Sainte-Marie is shining a spotlight on Indigenous culture and language with a new children’s book, Tâpwê And The Magic Hat, and an upcoming picture book based on one of her songs.
“When I was raising my son I just had this story in mind and as he got bigger and bigger and bigger the story kept expanding and it takes place at Piapots Reserve in the ’60s,” Sainte-Marie says about Tâpwê And The Magic Hat. “And it kind of reflects the way life was there.”
But it’s not just the release of the book Sainte-Marie is celebrating, she’s also thrilled to have the book translated and released in Cree.
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Sainte-Marie says the Cree version — translated by linguist Solomon Ratt — is a “very big deal” for her.
“I begged and pleaded and they said yes, so I’m just thrilled! I’m just thrilled!” she tells ET Canada. “European languages like Portuguese, Italian and French, they’re all kind of related and they kind of do the same job. But an Indigenous language, it’s very different. It has a different function. It’s like a thumb.”
“The fact that it’s been translated in Cree, this could be a real gift to the world,” the singer-songwriter adds. “It hadn’t been recognized and it hasn’t been invited before.”
Sainte-Marie’s literary accomplishments don’t stop there. She is also releasing a picture book in September based on her song, “Still This Love Goes On”.
“Some songs just lend themselves to that,” she explains. “It’s really personal for me. It’s really about the people that I miss that come from Piapots Reserve because they became my family.”