Book - I am Raven: A Story of Discovery
Artist: David Bouchard
David Bouchard dives into his own life and identity in this beautifully illustrated book. Personal totems are often described as animal spirit guardians. Totems are passed down through family lines. The beautiful prose describes an amazing personal journey of discovery, finally, inviting the reader to do the same.
An Elder once asked me if my spirit animal guardian was Bear. I must have looked somewhat confused because she went on to explain that Bear was the wise Elder, the teacher. She told me that Bear understood as well as any what to take from our mother Earth and how important it was to always put back that which we took. “You’ve been a teacher many years? Are you guided by Bear?” she asked. “YES!” I answered confidently. “Yes. In fact, my guardian is the Grizzly Bear” I smiled.
Dear reader, you must understand that I have always been fascinated by the powerful giant, Bear. “If you want to be certain of this,” she said softly, “all you have to do is close your eyes before travelling to your dreamtime – close your eyes and picture your guardian. Thank it. Ask it for guidance. Try to see it. It will be there for you. It does not hide. It is proud to be part of who you are.”
That night, I couldn’t wait to get to bed. I was very anxious to see my totem. I knew to be Bear. I closed my eyes and the first and only thing I saw was a big, goofy looking Raven staring straight at me. He looked ragged; one of his neck feathers was sticking off to the side. I spoke to him, respectfully. “Hello Raven. It is good to see you here in my dreamtime. However, I’d be grateful if you would just step over to the side – either side – just step aside please because Bear is trying to come into my vision and – just step aside a little – please.
I fell asleep. The next day, I shared my story with the knowing Elder who didn’t hesitate to tell me that she wasn’t surprised to hear my story. She knew that I had succeeded in school in spite of the fact that I was a weak reader. She knew that I had done things in my life that could have been seen as being too much for me. She knew my wife and that I had to be very cunning indeed to have talked such a beautiful woman into marrying me. The lesson I learned from that Elder that day came to me through the last words she spoke to me. “David, surely you know that you are not Bear. You are Raven.”
"I Am Raven represents another chapter in the Canadian children’s literature depiction of the First Nation experience in Canada. What’s more, however, is that the text is so well written and the illustrations so well crafted that I Am Raven is not presented in any sort of an exclusionary manner. Rather, the notion of totems and “animal spirit guardians” is presented as an idea for everyone, regardless of their cultural identity. The author, David Bouchard, is Métis, and the illustrator, Andy Everson, has K'omoks and Kwakwaka’wakw First Nations ancestry. The author and illustrator’s evident pride in their ancestry contributes to a powerful, engaging, fascinating and, simply, lovely book for readers young and old." - Gregory Bryan, CM Magazine
This resource is also available in French: Je suis Corbeau.