Aaron Bell has been sharing the teachings and stories of the First Nations people of southern Ontario for 18 years. He owns and operates two businesses, Ojibway Storyteller and Gonrah Desgohwah White Pine Dancers, out of his home in Brantford, Ontario.
Thirteen-year-old Jak Loren is a typical boy with the usual problems a family with older sisters and younger brothers presents. Never mind the troubles at school - bullies and girls!
When Jak goes to the ravine near his home in Brantford to get away from Steven Burke, a bully who’s been tormenting him, he discovers the ravine has a history that’s much older than he thought. He meets Grandfather Rock, who shares with him the story of the people who have lived near the ravine for thousands of years. Soon Jak’s eyes are opened to a new world of beings and respect.
He learns about First Nations people and how their teachings inhabit the spirits of all living things that surround us even today. The tales of the First Nations help Jak to understand that the gift of life is something to be cherished. And when a construction crew arrives in his neighbourhood and threatens his beloved ravine, Jak knows he has to act to save it.
"The reader learns a lot of First Nations history and wisdom in a succinct and natural manner."
Jak's Story explores the issues of bullying and the environment and integrates First Nations storytelling, wisdom and history. The chapters are short and captivating and Bell manages to minimize coming off as preachy. I read this book in one sitting.
"This is an excellent story to teach youth about First Nations beliefs and culture. It also reminds the reader of the importance of protecting the environment by setting limits to the amount of development of land. Aaron Bells honesty and respect for land and community shines through his writing in this first book."