The Moccasins: “They made me feel warm and loved”

June 21st is National Aboriginal Day here in Canada. It is a day for all Canadians to celebrate First Nations, Inuit and Métis culture and heritage. So today I offer up this gem of a book:

“They made me feel warm and loved”: That is how Earl Einarson felt as a child when his foster mother gave him a special gift–a pair of moccasins that connected him to his First Nations culture.

Years later, Einarson, who is a member of the Ktunaxa First Nation, shared his childhood story in a beautiful little book called, The Moccasins (2004). This first-time author packs a powerful story about self-esteem, acceptance and love into thirteen, simply written and illustrated pages.

Illustrations by arist Julie Flett, who is of Cree/Métis descent, are perfect companions to this gentle, joyful story. Her images of beaded, leather moccasins are beautiful, and represent an important part of Aboriginal culture and history.

The Moccasins is an inspiring read for adopted or foster children, Aboriginal or otherwise–and underlines the need for children to maintain their cultural backgrounds. But it’s also the perfect book to introduce the issue of adoption, and Aboriginal culture, to all children. According to publisher Theytus Books Ltd. (the oldest publishers of Indigenous voices in Canada), the book is “written for children of any background with a positive message of unconditional love.” It is written for children aged 4-6 (but it’s simple enough to read to younger children, and important enough for older readers).

Aboriginal children are the fastest and largest growing population in Canada. Let’s honour their beautiful culture not just today–but every day.

More information:

University of Manitoba book review

Interview with artist Julie Flett

National Aboriginal Day information and events

Canadian Museum of Civilization moccasins exhibit

A short video about the art of traditional moccasin-making:

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