April 28, 2021

We Dream Medicine Dreams

Written and illustrated by Lisa Boivin
HighWater Press
48 pp.
Ages 5-10
April, 2021

The cover tells you this is going to be a powerful book. From its vibrant colours and emotional depiction of adult and child resting and dreaming to the natural landscape of bear, vegetation and stars, the book cover of We Dream Medicine Dreams invites us into a different world.
From We Dream Medicine Dreams by Lisa Boivin
Lisa Boivin, a member of the Deninu K’ue First Nation, recalls her memories of napping with her grandfather and his teaching her of the importance of medicine dreams.
There is medicine in our dreams. This medicine teaches us to be skillful in the world and teaches us how to face the challenges in our lives. These skills are learned from animals.
With each animal dream comes a lesson. Bear teaches about listening and finding safety, finding food and being alone.
He is cradled by his love of the land when he sleeps, and he is encouraged by the land as he learns how to live a good life.
Bear teaches us that, though there will be times in our lives when we are alone, we have learned well from family and carry their love which will help us thrive.
There's also Hawk who teaches us to open ourselves to new good things, and Caribou who teaches us about generosity and respectfulness. Her favourite lesson from her grandfather is about Wolf who learns from his elders how to hunt and accepts failures as a part of learning.
From We Dream Medicine Dreams by Lisa Boivin
But her grandfather is now ill and in a coma, and his death is imminent. At the hospital, she crawls onto the bed to have one last nap with him to "dream a medicine dream for us."
From We Dream Medicine Dreams by Lisa Boivin
When her grandfather has passed, she takes his teachings to heart. Like Bear, she knows she has been taught well that the world loves her as he did and that he would want her to be happy. Hawk reminds her that she has received many gifts from her Grampa, and that she must be open to new ones. Like Caribou, she will be respectful of the gifts given to her and the lessons learned.  Finally from Wolf, she learns humility and to keep trying.
From We Dream Medicine Dreams by Lisa Boivin
Her grandfather, whose own mother had called him Little Wolf, now visits his grandchild in her dreams as a dark wolf to teach her to be happy with the world around her. 
We Dream Medicine Dreams is the whole package. Its story about the teachings that come from animal dreams blended with Lisa Boivin's impactful and vibrant digital art tells and shows and invites the reader to experience and learn. These lessons about being one's best self, of living as part of the world and with others are profound. Conveyed through a tender and meaningful inter-generational relationship, the message that animal dreams can heal with their teachings is not lost on the reader, as they were not on the granddaughter in We Dream Medicine Dreams. Her grandfather's words are touching in their sincerity and intent, demonstrating the compassion and wisdom needed to live life well.

Lisa Boivin's words are stirringly meaningful, and her illustrations are vivid and textured, so skillfully rendered digitally that I was initially convinced it was cut-paper art. It isn't. It's just so multilayered in colour and shape that it gives the impression of depth, energy and even daring.

From Lisa Boivin's dedication that begins with
"This book is a sacred ceremony..."
I know that this book honours the teaching of her fathers, grandfather and other, who shared with her Indigenous lessons of animal dreams. In creating this picture book, not only has she honoured them and their bonds, Lisa Boivin has shared restorative lessons for living with challenges including loss, lessons we've always needed, but especially now.

No comments:

Post a Comment