A children’s book by two La Ronge authors is shortlisted for the Children’s Book Award at the Saskatchewan Book Awards.

Ida Tremblay and Miriam Körner began collaborating on the book When We Had Sled Dogs: A Story from the Trapline ācimowin ohci wanihikīskanāhk in 2017. The book was published in 2019.

Unfortunately, Tremblay died a few months before the book was finished. She was able to see the first draft of the illustrations by Körner and hear the story.

Körner said she wanted to give up and not finish the book, but Tremblay’s family helped her push through to completion.

“We got together after the wake and funeral, and with the help of Ida’s family, I had the courage to complete this book and put it out into the world.”

The book is based on Tremblay’s stories from growing up on her family’s trapline.

Körner said Tremblay wanted to inspire children with this book to go back to living on the land, and to learn and live their culture, like she did.

“She always wished that when children read this book, they’re going to want to go out in the bush and live that life a little bit,” Körner said. “That was always her dream and that’s always been in her work as an elder too. She was always working in the schools talking about life in the bush.”

The book also features Cree words and sentences throughout the story. Körner said it was important to Tremblay and herself to have the language showcased. She said colonization caused many Indigenous people to lose their ties with their culture and languages so it’s important now to strengthen those ties again.

“I think now it’s our responsibility to do what we can to bring that (language and culture) back and support people that do want to bring it back,” Körner said. “Ida’s first language was Cree, but there’s so few fluent Cree speakers left that we decided we were going to write it in English and then introduce a few Cree words and phrases.”

The awards ceremony is scheduled for Thursday evening. It will be presented online due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

(PHOTO: Book cover. Photo courtesy of amazon.ca)