Cree singer-songwriter Buffy Sainte-Marie has spent a lifetime as an innovative artist, trailblazer, and tireless advocate for humanitarian causes. In September 2008, she made a comeback in the Canadian music scene with the release of Running for the Drum, her 14th studio album, which has “Still This Love Goes On" as its final track.
Now we have the joy of experiencing her spirited lyrics as a children's book stunningly illustrated by Julie Flett, an acclaimed Cree-Métis author, illustrator, and artist. It has a timeless quality suitable for any season but particularly fits the quiet of winter, beginning with these lines:
"Sat beside a beaver dam and watched the winter grow.
Ice was hard with little tracks appearing in the snow.
Fog is in the valley now and all the geese have gone.
'Cross the moon I saw them go and ...
still this love goes on and on.
Still this love goes on."
The pictures are equal parts spaciousness, celebration, and tenderness. Take, for instance, the bundled girl, small against a wide white landscape, pausing wonder-struck as dozens of geese begin their flight; or the two jingle dancers holding hands and ascending a green hill toward the horizon and pure, unobstructed sky.
The words and musical score, including guitar cords, follow the story. The author's and illustrator's notes to readers and listeners at the end are heartfelt, like Buffy Sainte-Marie's observations of the changes that winter brings to the reserve in Alberta. But "the one thing that stays the same is my love for it all, day after day and year after year — especially the people and our Cree ways, precious like the fragrance of sweetgrass."
The book is labeled for readers ages 3 - 7, but immediately after reading it we sent it to a friend in her late 60s who was so moved that she cried throughout its pages. It's ageless, inspired, and permeated with love.