Read an excerpt from Keeshig and the Ojibwe Pterodactyls
“On a hot summer day, a young Anishinabe boy visits the shores of Gitchee Gumee with his mother. Nanaboozhoo, their teacher, is before them, presenting himself as a mass of land that stretches across the horizon. As they visit, Keeshig tells his mother about what he calls “the Ojibwe pterodactyls” that live with Nanaboozhoo. Keeshig surprises his mom by sharing that the Ojibwe pterodactyls are the Thunderbirds, and that they are the heartbeat of Nanaboozhoo. Keeshig’s mom is so happy and grateful to hear his story and gives him a big hug, letting him know that he is her heart.
Keeshig’s story, transcribed by his mother, is accompanied by stunningly beautiful colour illustrations by his father, Robert Spade, and his brother, Kiniw Spade. This remarkably beautiful children’s picture book is a true family effort! Ages 3 – 7.”
Keeshig Spade and his family are the authors and illustrators of Keeshig and the Ojibwe Pterodactyls, an illustrated children's book.
Celeste Pedri-Spade describes the story: "This story came from our 4-year-old son named Keeshig Spade. Keeshig is a very proud and gifted Anishinabe storyteller. He shared this with his family back in the summer of 2016 during a trip out to visit Nanabooshoo (Sleeping Giant Provincial Park). As his parents, we encourage Keeshig to share his voice and we love to share his stories with our Elders whenever we visit them. After Keeshig came up with this story, we shared it with our Elder Gerry Baxter. He told us that it reminded him of the old stories his mother used to tell him when he was a boy and he told us to write this story down, not only for Keeshig but for other Anishinabe children. Following his direction, we wrote it down exactly as it took place that summer day (as a conversation between Keeshig and his mom.)
"Art is a very important part of the way we live as an Anishinabe family. We bead, sew and also paint. Since Keeshig’s dad, Robert, is an accomplished painter and Keeshig’s younger brother Kiniw also loves to paint and draw, we thought of proposing this book as a family project. The story is Keeshig’s as told to his mother Celeste, and the illustrations can be created and contributed by Robert with help from Kiniw Spade."
Keeshig Spade (Keeshigbahnahnkut) is a six year-old Anishinabe from Lac des Mille Lacs First Nation. He currently resides with his family in Sudbury, ON where he attends Alexander Public School. Keeshig enjoys being a big brother to Kiniw and Wakinyan and he enjoys doing many things with them including playing outside, swimming and dancing men’s traditional at powwows. Keehshig is a member of the Sturgeon Clan and has a gift for sharing stories and singing songs. Keeshig’s favorite time of the year is when he gets to go back west in the summer to be with his kookums and great kookum.
Dr. Celeste Pedri-Spade (Anang Onimiwin) is an Anishinabekwe from Lac Des Mille Lacs First Nation. She is a mother, wife, researcher, learner, and artist. Celeste is an Assistant Professor in the School of Northern and Community Studies at Laurentian University where she also teaches in the School of Indigenous Relations. She is also the inaugural Director of the Maamwizing Indigenous Research Institute.
Robert Spade (Keeshigooninii) is an Anishinabe artist-educator from Northern Ontario (Fort Hope First Nation). Rob is a father, husband, artist, sundancer, teacher (Sturgeon Clan), and has many years of experience delivering cultural and arts-based education, counseling and support, cultural sensitivity training, cultural-arts-based therapy and guidance to Indigenous and non-Indigenous children, youth, and adults. Rob has spent over half his life living and working out on the land in his traditional territory learning teachings and stories, ceremonies, traditional skills and art from his Elders. He is a gifted and accomplished storyteller, men’s traditional dancer, drummer, singer, and visual artist.
Kiniw Spade (Nitaw Gamik) is a five year-old Anishinabe from Lac des Mille Lacs First Nation. He currently resides with his family in Sudbury, ON and is in SK at Alexander Public School. Kiniw enjoys spending time with his brothers, Keeshig and Wakinyan, and the rest of his family. He loves visiting, playing with small animal toys, dancing men’s traditional, reading books and painting. His favourite birds are the woodpecker and seagull.