Quinten and I have been researching the use of green spaces and urbanity in Canadian children’s literature. My current research is concerned with finding primary sources that use green spaces such as gardens, the countryside, fields, and forests as the setting for the plot. I found that most of my research had led me to Indigenous picture books because the indigenous culture inherently values animals, plant life, and nature. Throughout all the Indigenous picture books, the earth and the landscape have a symbolic significance of their cultural beliefs. There are many illustrated books on the Northern Territories, and the Arctic, which are written in various indigenous languages, such as Cree, Inuit, and Metis. For the most part, these stories are adaptations of the oral storytelling narratives that are traditionally shared generationally within Indigenous communities. Therefore, they heavily emphasize the desire for family, respect for the land, and the virtue of moral integrity.
In the trilogy, My Arctic series written by Michael Kusugak, the main character Agatha is a young Inuit girl, and her experiences told in the books are heavily based on the experiences of Kusugak in the 1950s. Agatha shares the stories her grandmother told her about the raven, the experience she had going away to an English school, and the time when she saw an evil aircraft fly over her village. The narrative is a retelling of an indigenous child’s perspective during the Canadian industrial revolution. Kusugak reimagines the stories by empowering the young girl as being heroic, brave, and nurturing. The picture book series takes on a post-colonial perspective by giving a voice to the indigenous people and land that had been colonized.