Children's book brings elder and artist together to reconnect children with nature

Walking Together, a new book by Mi'kmaw elder Albert Marshall, describes for children the concept of 'two-eyed seeing.'

Walking Together explains the Mi'kmaw concept of 'two-eyed seeing'

A man with white hair is seen wearing a newsboy cap and a black bomber jacket.
Eskasoni elder Albert Marshall is a fluent Mi'kmaw speaker, residential school survivor and environmentalist. (Matthew Moore/CBC)

A new book by a Mi'kmaw elder aims to reconnect children with nature and introduce them to the concept of "two-eyed seeing." 

Albert Marshall, 84, is Moose clan, Mi'kmaw, and lives in Eskasoni on Cape Breton Island.

He co-authored Walking Together with Louise Zimanyi.

Walking Together explains the idea of etuaptmumk (Mi'kmaw for "two-eyed seeing.") Marshall describes it as viewing the environment through human eyes while having the ability to see things from another's perspective — including plants or animals or other aspects of nature.

Marshall said he wants to encourage children to sustain themselves, no matter what they do, without comprising ecological integrity.

"Nature has rights, humans have responsibility," said Marshall.

"Every effort that they take, they will make sure that this would be in harmony with nature."

Marshall said children are visual learners and that Indigenous children are more receptive to visual imagery than text, so he placed an emphasis on the illustrations.

Emily Kewageshig, an Anishinaabe artist from Saugeen First Nation in southern Ontario, was approached by Annick Press to illustrate Walking Together

An illustration from Walking Together. (Emily Kewageshig)

She had started selling her paintings as a student at Ontario College of Art and Design University in Toronto in 2018 to earn extra income. 

Kewageshig said the publisher told her it's not typical for the author and artist to meet, but they wanted to ensure Marshall's vision for Walking Together was achieved. 

"I felt like I was talking to like my grandpa or something," Kewageshig said of her working relationship with Marshall.

"I felt like we were able to connect one-on-one even though we were virtual."

Inspiration from her son

Marshall wanted the illustrations to appeal to children, so Kewageshig's artwork is imbued with the perspective of her own toddler.

"I observed him when we would go out and see how he would react to the natural environment and then I used that as my main inspiration for creating the drawings," she said.

"I take inspiration from a lot of things, like the love of nature."

Artist Emily Kewageshig at work. (Taylor Cameron)

Kewageshig said she spent much of her youth outside, catching tadpoles in the creek and hunting with her dad. She found peace outdoors, unplugged from technology. 

She hopes this book will do the same for children who read it.

"It really emphasizes walking together in harmony, with each other and learning from the land," Kewageshig said. 

"Not separating ourselves from the land, but viewing it as another one of us that we can learn from and grow with."

She said she will be excited to see "how this book makes its way into the schools and how, you know, all my nieces and nephews and my son take this information.

"That'll be the best part for me."


Candace Maracle is Wolf Clan from Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory. She has a master’s degree in journalism from Toronto Metropolitan University. She is a laureate of The Hnatyshyn Foundation REVEAL Indigenous Art Award. Her latest film, a micro short, Lyed Corn with Ash (Wa’kenenhstóhare’) is completely in the Kanien’kéha language.