The Story of the Tamarack is one that Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) citizen Tobias Clarke has shared many times. But now, her heartwarming tale of family and natural world has been published and is available to a wider audience.
Clarke partnered with illustrator Jeffery Wilson for The Story of the Tamarack which weaves a narrative through the eyes of a young Métis girl named Rosette. While out on a morning trek to their favorite fishing spot, ten-year-old Rosette becomes distressed by the sight of sickly tamarack trees. Sensing a teaching moment, Rosette’s ‘moushoum’ (grandfather) tells a story to comfort the young girl and remind her that all life is connected.
Clarke, the recently appointed Secretary Treasurer of the MNO Clear Waters Council, calls the story one of humility, sacrifice and friendship.
“The Tamaracks were large and strong and had developed a friend called ego and privilege where they felt they were above all things that were not as mighty as them,” describes Clarke. “However, in the end they learn humility through time and it is their humility and sacrifice of one's ego and privilege that they develop a beautiful friendship."
A descendent of the Drummond Island Métis, Clarke wanted the project to honour her ancestors while setting a strong example for her own children. In fact, the name of the story’s protagonist, ‘Rosette,’ was inspired by the author’s real-life Drummond Island ancestor.
Clarke originally wrote the story in 2011, but it remained tucked away in a drawer for many years. A long-time oral story-teller, she has plans to release more written stories in the future.
When asked if Clarke has advice for aspiring Métis authors, she recommends a philosophy of patience: “You never need to rush - it happens when it is meant to happen,” she says. “However, make sure that if you are looking at doing an illustrated children’s book you get someone with great experience and knowledge like I had - Jeffery Wilson was kind and patient - it made my experience wonderful.”
The Story of The Tamarack is available online through Chapters/Indigo and other online sources. It will also be available for purchase at the 2019 MNO AGA in Sault Ste. Marie.