The influence that adults caregivers have on a child’s life is undeniable. We have all heard the expression “the apple never falls far from the tree”, I’ve often referred to “apples and trees” to describe the similarities I’ve seen between parents and child without the ‘never’ cynicism.
Two pieces of media I’ve enjoyed recently that hit this message home again are Wab Kinew‘s book, The Reason you Walk, and Hunt For The The Wilder People, directed by Taika Waititi. Interestingly, both are presentations of a strong male to male bond. and both include an aboriginal perspective. While I didn’t seek them out for that reason, I do enjoy the coincidence.
I picked up Wab Kinew’s book because I used to enjoy a TV show he hosted. He had wit, he was honest, he was charming, and he was an advocate for his aboriginal culture. I had no real idea what the book was about but it was a prize finalist, it felt good in my hand, and so, I purchased it. As his personal story unfolded, I was awed. True to form, he had invited me into his life, with complete vulnerability. I admire vulnerability because of the growth and courage I know it takes to put away bravado and just be honest about who we are.
Wab’s story is biographical telling from the perspective of his life intersecting with his father’s. His father, Tobasonakwut, was a residential school survivor, an inspirational cultural teacher, a sun dancer, a man who navigated trials of racism, trauma, and life, but who’s final dance was with cancer. Through the book, Wab philosophically explores himself as he comes to know his father as a force of love and grace. As I read, I had the sense that the son was growing into the shoes the father would leave behind once cancer finally took his life. It was an excellent, recommendable read, that is not only about apples and trees but also a glimpse into the healing Aboriginal identity in Canada.
Hunt for the Wilder People was an accident. We share a Netflix account with family members and my daughter had it listed as a recently watched. It can be a good technique for finding something worthy of the limited time I share with a TV set. This is a story out of New Zealand that features a confused child being raised in the foster system and the unlikely, perhaps last resort couple that welcome him into their home. It is told with wit, honesty and creativity. The relationship between the child and the male role model is again, loving and again very deep. As it ended I felt both happy and satisfied, just as I had when I finished Wab’s story. Perhaps he needs to seek out the directing services of Taika Waititi?