Books·Canadian

Swift Fox All Along

A book by Rebecca Thomas, illustrated by Maya McKibbin.

Rebecca Thomas, illustrated by Maya McKibbin

What does it mean to be Mi'kmaq? And if Swift Fox can't find the answer, will she ever feel like part of her family?When Swift Fox's father picks her up to go visit her aunties, uncles, and cousins, her belly is already full of butterflies. And when he tells her that today is the day that she'll learn how to be Mi'kmaq, the butterflies grow even bigger. Though her father reassures her that Mi'kmaq is who she is from her eyes to her toes, Swift Fox doesn't understand what that means. Her family welcomes her with smiles and hugs, but when it's time to smudge and everyone else knows how, Swift Fox feels even more like she doesn't belong. Then she meets her cousin Sully and realizes that she's not the only one who's unsure—and she may even be the one to teach him something about what being Mi'kmaq means. Based on the author's own experience, with striking illustrations by Maya McKibbin, Swift Fox All Along is a poignant story about identity and belonging that is at once personal and universally resonant. (From Annick Press)

Swift Fox All Along is a finalist for the 2020 Governor General's Literary Prize for young people's literature — illustrated books.

Rebecca Thomas is a Mi'kmaw writer living in Nova Scotia. She was the Halifax poet laureate from 2016 to 2018. She is also the author of the children's book I'm Finding My Talk, which is a poem responding to the iconic Rita Joe poem I Lost My Talk and the poetry collection I place you into the fire.

Maya McKibbin is a two-spirited Ojibwe, Yoeme and Irish illustrator and filmmaker. Swift Fox All Along is her first picture book.

Interviews with Rebecca Thomas

For the United Nations' International Year of Indigenous Languages, initiatives to strengthen ties between Indigenous people and their languages are being taken up across the world. This week on Unreserved, stories of reclamation and revitalization of Indigenous languages. 38:25
June is National Indigenous History Month and in celebration, we invited a special book columnist, Rebecca Thomas, to recommend some of her top picks by Indigenous authors. Thomas is a Mi'kmaw author and poet from Dartmouth, N.S., and the former poet laureate of Halifax. She published her first children's picture book last fall, called I'm Finding My Talk. In her discussion with Tom Power, she talked about the following books: The Race to the Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse, Jonny Appleseed by Joshua Whitehead, and Shadows Cast by Stars by Catherine Knutsson. 8:03
In Mi’kmaw, three similarly shaped words have drastically different meanings: kesalul means “I love you”; kesa’lul means “I hurt you”; and ke’sa’lul means “I put you into the fire.” Former Halifax poet laureate Rebecca Thomas uses these Mi’kmaw phrases to underpin her first book of poetry, I Place You Into the Fire. Thomas joined Tom Power to discuss how her poetry serves as a rallying cry for Indigenous justice, empathy and equality. 18:08
Rebecca Thomas talks to Shelagh Rogers about her poetry collection I place you into the fire. 16:12

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