On just about every clear night in the Northern Hemisphere, if you look up at the sky you’re likely to spot the cluster of bright stars that form the Big Dipper constellation.
For Cree people, the constellation is known as Oojakaduck, or the Fisher Constellation. The fisher, in this case, refers to the animal, which falls within the weasel family.
The constellation has always sparked the imagination of Norm Wesley of Moose Factory, and it’s led him to write a children’s book about it called, Oojakaduck: Corey Finds His Way Home.
“I came across some 30 years ago, a story about the origin of what we know as the Big Dipper,” Wesley said.
I wrote that story 30 years ago and my intent was to get it published and it’s been sitting there for all these years until August.— Norm Wesley, author
“And as time went on … I had this idea of writing this story about a young boy and his grandfather going goose hunting and as they’re waiting for the tide he’s told about the origin of the Big Dipper. Oojakaduck, it’s called.”
Wesley said he named the book’s protagonist after his grandson, “He was three years old at the time. He’s now 32.”
The book follows the Cree legend of Oojakaduck.
“It’s a story about these animals living along the river and the muskrat … goes down to fetch water in the morning and he finds that the water is gone from the river. The long and short of this, is that the fish have stolen the water for themselves.
“So they decide to send out the fisher to go and search for the fish, to get the water back,” Wesley said.
‘A real accomplishment’
Wesley said he was about 35 years old when he first heard the story of Oojakaduck. At the time, he said, he was researching his roots and history.
The book is geared for children in Grades 6 and 7. He said the book is years in the making.
“I wrote that story 30 years ago and my intent was to get it published and it’s been sitting there for all these years until August,” he said.
Wesley said he saw an advertisement on Facebook, posted by Freedom Press, which said it was looking to help aspiring authors publish.
“I think it’s a real accomplishment,” he said. “I feel good about it.”
“I also feel good … that now other young people will be able to hear the story,” Wesley said. “Whoever reads it will be able to begin to learn about our heritage, our mythology, our sacred stories.”