Pemmican Wars (A Girl Called Echo) by Katherena Vermette, Scott B. Henderson (Illustrator) & Donovan Yaciuk (Colourist)

A young Metis girl, Echo Desjardins, travels back in time to 1814. While there she learns about her Metis ancestry and how they were caught in the crossfire in the battle between the Northwest Company and the Hudson’s Bay Company. This little known aspect of Canadian History is known as The Pemmican Wars.

The time travelling alternates with Echo’s life in a foster home and at a new school. 
It begins with a young girl looking out across a beautiful vista of the Qu’Appelle Valley (now called Saskatchewan). She connects with a group of Metis who are at their summer camp hunting and preserving buffalo. This first episode was triggered during her history class.

This beginning, and great swathes of the rest of book are without text. The intense isolation and loneliness of Echo’s day to day life is portrayed powerfully in wordless frames that show her moving from class to class at school, and then heading to her room when she returns to her foster home. Most of the story is conveyed in the gorgeous images alone.

The book concludes with Echo meeting with her mother having a conversation about their Metis roots with the words, "to be concluded…." at the bottom of the page. This ending felt abrupt and incomplete. It left me feeling irritated. The next book in the series, Red River Resistance, will be published in September. I am looking forward to it and hope, even if it is merely a continuation of the series, that the ending is more satisfying.

For readers who want to know more about this aspect of Canadian history, there is a timeline at the end of the book that outlines significant events. There is also a recipe for pemmican.

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