In the first two books of the Compassion Series, author Tim Huff looked at homelessness and the disabled. The third book in the series, The Honour Drum, explores Indigenous peoples’ issues and was co-authored with speaker, teacher and singer/songwriter Cheryl Bear.
The pairing of Huff and Bear is neither inconsequential nor accidental. In the introduction they write of their shared values of home, the Creator’s goodness and Canada’s beauty and diversity, but note that:
“The history of our lineages surely tells a different story. The sacred bloodline of an Indigenous woman from Canada’s west coast and the branches of a Toronto-born Anglo-Canadian man’s family tree cross at complex intersections. Canada at-large knows this uneasy kind of reality from east to west, north to south, only too well.”
Out of these shared values and complex intersections, though, comes a beautiful book that uses images, story, commentary and discussion questions to, as the subtitle states, share “the beauty of Canada’s Indigenous People with Children, Families and Classrooms.”
The Honour Drum hits shelves at a critical time in the relationship between Canada’s Indigenous and non-Indigenous people.
The Honour Drum hits shelves at a critical time in the relationship between Canada’s Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples. Events over the past few years – the report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the establishment of the inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and a renewed focus, thanks in part to Gord Downie of the Tragically Hip, on the residential school abuse and runaways issues – have brought the themes presented in The Honour Drum to the forefront of Canadians’ minds.
While classified and promoted as a children’s book, The Honour Drum reaches people of all ages. As Bear and Huff explain in a note to parents and teachers, the book can be approached on a number of levels. An initial reading of the rhyming stanza, accompanied by Huff’s inspired illustrations, introduces the book’s content and themes.
An understanding of the book’s themes is enhanced by the discussion guide and questions which provide depth and context to each stanza. For example, in the discussion guide accompanying the stanza “Pow Wow is a time to gather and meet/To sing and remember, to dance and to eat” readers discover that pow wows are “a time for the communities to gather, sing, dance, socialize and honour and celebrate their cultures.” Discussion questions ask readers What kind of “all are welcome” celebrations they’ve been to.
The Honour Drum is an important and integral book for those Canadians grappling with the issues it raises. As Christians it’s even more important because past actions of those associated with the church have been the source of some of the hurt that needs healing. As I read The Honour Drum and thought about the themes it raised, I became more and more convinced of God’s hand in its collaboration and timing.
Everyone, whether they have children or not, needs to read, study and meditate on The Honour Drum with this question in mind: what is God calling me to do?
For more information about The Honour Drum go to http://tinyurl.com/zvcor7g