“You have a long way to go before you are wise like the old people,” Grandma Grace tells ten-year-old Cora when she leaves her hard-working single mother and spends summers with her grandparents. Each summer, Grandma Grace and Grandpa William teach Cora to care for their animals and tend the garden, fish in the creek, pray to the creator, pick berries and plants for medicine, smoke meat, tan hide, and make moccasins and bannock.
“They made me do this over and over again,” remembers Cora, “so I would not forget.”
As Cora grows, she is reluctant to leave for university, but her grandparents urge to go, reminding her they have nothing left to teach. Cora finds love and starts her own family as her grandparents age. When she returns home, Cora knows she has to continue the tradition of passing knowledge to her children, and then her grandchildren, even as they leave the community to pursue education and careers.
Spirits of the Northern Lights is a beautiful story about family support, Indigenous identity, and honouring tradition in the face of a rapidly changing world.