A new book, Myths and Legends of the Woodland Cree, was announced at the Fine Arts Festival opening ceremony in Prince Albert. The book was developed with stories told by Elizabeth Roberts and translated by her daughter Dr. Rose Roberts.

Elizabeth Roberts was born and raised on their trapline on Lac La Ronge, and she is the oldest of her siblings. During her upbringing she didn’t attend school, she doesn’t read or write in English, but she taught herself to read and write using syllabics. She raised her children with these Woodland Cree stories, just as she was by her parents. 

Dr. Rose Roberts said the idea for the book came from the Prince Albert Grand Council Grand Chief Brian Hardlotte. He had concerns with losing elders and their stories.

Elizabeth retells the stories that she heard to the best of her knowledge and Rose was able to fill in the blanks. She was able to recall the missing parts because she heard them growing up. Rose worked with her mother to record the stories and later translated them to English and read them in Cree. 

 “I began to understand the morals and values that were integrated within the legends, and it took me a while to learn them because when I was little, they were just really good stories but as I got older, I began to realize there were lessons within the stories and I began to get a deeper appreciation of how the Cree language connects us to the Earth,” said Rose. 

The work that went into the book exposed more areas that need to be preserved in the Woodland Cree language. Some of the words Elizabeth used were “old” Cree and not spoken as frequently. 

During the book launch, Elizabeth and Rose Roberts were both honoured with star blankets and an honour song, for the work they did. The launch was a part of the opening ceremony for the Fine Arts Festival.

Rose said this book is only the beginning, and the ideas are starting to flood in for other projects.

 The book, Myths and Legends of the Woodland Cree, as told by Elizabeth Roberts is now available at the Fine Arts Festival and at online retailers like Amazon.

(Photo of Elizabeth and Rose Roberts during a star blanket ceremony. By Amber Bear.)