A member of the Nak’azdli Whut’en First Nation near Fort St James has written and illustrated his first children’s book in honour of his four-year-old daughter for whom he made a drum.
Self-taught artist ‘Herbert’ Shane Hartman recently debuted Isla’s New Drum released by Strong Nations Publishing Inc. based in Nanaimo.
“I read to her quite a bit and she likes stories, so I thought I’m an artist… I may as well create something kind of unique for her,” Hartman said from Victoria where he currently resides with his spouse, daughter and their puppy.
In the 32-page colour illustrated book which features Dakelh (Carrier) words, Isla asks her forest friends to help her make a song she can play with her drum.
“One of my other motives for writing the book was to get a little more Carrier Dakelh culture out there in the world to let people see about it,” Hartman said.
Hartman grew up at Fraser Lake where his mother had met his non-Indigenous father after having been sent from the Nak’azdli Whut’en First Nation to attend Lejac Residential School.
He made Isla her first drum from deer hide and pine when she was less than seven months old during a one-day drum-making session at the University of Victoria where he had worked as an Indigenous recruiter.
“A lot of ceremonies and gatherings, and things that we do as First Nations people have drums involved. It kind of unites us.”
With his own drum made of moose hide from a drum-making day held by the Tl’azt’en Nation near Stewart, Hartman hopes to continue spending quality father-daughter time with Isla drumming alongside him.