Illustrated by Dennis Hutchins, Red Paddles (Mitchell Press, 1968) is Isabel Reekie's fictional adventure story about two boys in Burrard Inlet. It's a story of a young boy and his Indian friend who survive the great Vancouver fire of June 13, 1886 aboard their raft. The author grew up on a farm north of Pierson, Manitoba. A former school teacher, she published a previous title called Along the Old Melita Trail (Regina: Modern Press, 1965). She lived in Vancouver for 13 years prior to moving to Brandon, Manitoba.
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A note from Musqueum Nation
Letter to Editor (2013)
Hello Mr. Twigg,
There's a book by Isabel M. Reekie entitled Red Paddles about two young boys in Burrard Inlet at the time of the 1886 Vancouver fire. I received the book as a child and didn't know anything about our history or culture at the time.
I hail from the Musqueam First Nation. One of our ancestral village sites situated in present day Stanley Park is described as the home village of the aboriginal boy in the story.
I've looked at various sites where the book is up for sale and see that they describe it having 'historically satisfying content'. This is not so; one of the events described involves the boy arriving home to find his family is holding a Hamatsa ceremony that evening. The Hamatsa is a hereditary ceremony of the Kw'akwakawakw (formerly known as Kwaguitl) people of northeastern Vancouver Island (i.e. Alert Bay/Kingcome Inlet). They are our traditional enemies and that ceremony would never have occurred in Burrard Inlet or anywhere else in Coast Salish territory. Such a depiction is offensive to our people and I'm sure just as much so to the Kw'akwakawakw to whom the ceremony belongs. It's very troubling to see that the book is recommended by these various sites as suitable for students in grade 5 and over. The misleading content of school curriculum regarding aboriginal people has been a bane to us for a very long time.
I apologize for dumping this all in your lap, but your website is the first one I've found that makes provision for feedback. I'm writing this in the spirit of setting the record straight and if it's not within your purview perhaps you could steer me to a site that's more suitable to my concern.
Thank you Mr. Twigg,
Musqueam First Nation.