Kode’s Quest(ion): A Story of Respect explores the meaning of one of the Seven Grandfather Teachings as seen through the eyes of a young girl. The story is about Kode’s quest to learn what respect means. She asks everyone she knows. Each person responds in a different way: taking care of Mother Earth, being good to people around you, helping your elders, taking care of yourself, living by the seven teachings and doing your best. Kode learns a lot but is still uncertain what respect means to her. In the end, she sits down and, after taking a deep breath, finds her own meaning of “respect.”
The story is set in an urban landscape with Indigenous central characters. This is a heartfelt story that serves as a cultural bridge for non-Indigenous people wishing to familiarize themselves with contemporary Indigenous culture. With illustrations on every page, the book is good for students from Kindergarten through Grade four. The book has the potential to spark good conversations about what respect means in different contexts. Students will learn that respect is practiced every day in our lives, wherever we might be – at home, with friends, at school or in the community. The concept of teaching respect is reiterated throughout Ontario’s Physical Education curriculum in all the grades as a part of active participation, observing personal safety and demonstrating respect to all classmates and cultures.
Throughout the book, the names and relationships are in Anishinaabe, which is an effective way of integrating Indigenous culture into the classroom. The reader will appreciate the pronunciation guide for the Anishinaabe words on the inside back cover. As a teacher, the process that Kode goes through in her quest is similar to an inquiry process. While looking for an answer, Kode asks (researches) her community and then takes in all the responses to form her own opinion. The play on words in the title, i.e. quest(ion), is also a good segue into how words are formed. Above all, this story of respect is a charming tale of a young girl learning values in her culture and, in turn, teaching all of us.
Tanushree Krishnanand is a member of the Durham Occasional Teacher Local.