About the Author

Nicola Campbell

Nicola Campbell is Interior Salish and Métis author who lives in British Columbia. She has a BFA and a MFA in creative writing, and is currently working towards a doctoral degree focusing on contemporary Indigenous Storytelling at UBC Okanagan in Kelowna, BC. Her first free-verse children book "Shi-shi-etko" was published in September 2005 and was a finalist for the 2006 Ruth Schwartz Children Book Award, the 2006 TD Canadian Children Literature Award and the 2006 Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award. Her second free-verse picture book "Shin-chi's Canoe" won the 2009 TD Canadian Children Literature Award and was a finalist for the 2009 Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award and a 2008 Governor General Award for illustration. She believes it is time for Indigenous stories to focus on empowerment, rather than tragedy.

Books by this Author
A Day With Yayah

A Day With Yayah

by Nicola Campbell
illustrated by Julie Flett
More Info
Yemít and Merímstn

"Where'd Mommy go?" I am in the doorway of my god Daddy's bedroom. I was baptized so I'm an Anglican now. Sometimes I stay with my young mom, sometimes I stay with my aunties and sometimes I stay with my god parents. I love staying with my god parents, but I'm only allowed to stay with them if they aren't drinking. And next to my young mommy, my god mommy is my favorite person in the whole wide world. "I don't know where she is, Baby. Go look in her bedroom." "Hmph." I turn and march back through the kitchen. One Cent, our fat old Siamese cat, is sprawled across the living room floor licking her paws, tail twitching. My god parents have four dogs: Noopy is black and Tina is light brown, both are Chihuahuas. Lady looks like she's from the movie Lady and the Tramp. Tiny is our Lassie dog and he stays outside. They always sit right beside my mommy, except if I'm home. But I can't find any of them. My god mommy bought a brand-new tube of Speed Sew from the fabric store in town and I want to Speed Sew something. Speed Sew is glue used for sewing fabric together, really fast. Her bedroom door is closed. I turn the doorknob, but the door won't move. "Mommy? Are you in there?" Noopy yips in response. I call my god mommy "mommy," too. People always get confused so everywhere we go, we have to explain that she's my god mommy. I trace the wood grain with my finger and find the grandmother and grandfather faces there. I see them everywhere: in patterns on the tile floor or ceiling, in trees and dirt, in shadows and even in my mush. Danny's room is right next door. I stand in his doorway with my toes and my nose inside. I'm not allowed to go inside Danny's room when he's not home. Danny's my god brother and he's a teenager. He wears Wrangler jeans and a western belt and he competes in high school rodeos. He has tiny paints and soft paintbrushes, triangle banners on his ceiling, neatly organized stacks of records and a record player. My favorite songs are "My White Bicycle" and "This Flight Tonight," by Nazareth. My god daddy and Danny do steer roping at Indian rodeos too. They're fast and strong on their horses. When we travel, we pack the day before and load the horse trailer and horses right before we leave town, leaving lonely dogs and a trail of dust at home. The rodeo grounds are a hubbub of activity: cowgirls and cowboys with their horses tied to horse trailers; the crowd cheering for the clown; anxious calves and bulls waiting in the corrals. I'm "this close" to painting a picture at Danny's desk when I hear my Mommy's voice through the closed door. "Yes, Babygirl." "What you doing?" Her dresser drawer is scraping closed."I'll be out in a few minutes, go play." I stare at the painted door. "But I don't want to! I want to come in there." I shake the door again. She slid the butter knife under the doorframe to lock the door closed; I just know it. Noopy starts to whine. "I'll be out soon. Noopy, sit down." "Mommy! I want to come in right now!" Danny's paints don't matter anymore. I shake the knob again. "I wanna Speed Sew too!" I hear the tinkle of Noopy's bell and the clickety-clack of his claws on the floor. Then he's whining and scratching at the door too."Not right now, baby. After. Mommy's busy, go play." "No, I don't want to play!" Why won't she let me in? Since when? "Let me in!" I turn the knob, bang hard with my fist balled up tight. "Mommy!" I holler and frown at the grandmother and grandfather faces on the door, then slide to the floor. I start crying the blues and Noopy joins me from the other side of the door. Finally, the bed squeaks and the door swings wide and she's standing there. My god mommy has one blue eye and one brown eye and her long auburn hair is in a long, wispy braid. She likes to wear slacks and sweaters. "Come in, then." I stand up and walk into her room wiping tears from my eyes. Tina and Lady, those traitors, are lying on her bed. Noopy dances at my feet, licking my hands. I wipe his tears and hug him. We're both happy. Mommy always keeps a clean house but her bedroom is another story. Her dressers are overflowing. She has things stacked everywhere: coats, bras, dresses, blouses on hangers and stacked on chairs, two Holy Bibles and jewelry boxes on her dresser. She has a drawer loaded with tiny, mini lipsticks and jewelry: clip-on rhinestone earrings, rhinestone necklaces and rosaries. Mary the Virgin and Jesus Christ stand in solemn solidarity on her walls."Whatcha doing?" On her bed I see the Speed Sew, along with some foam, and a big pair of silver and black scissors. This is exactly where I want to be."You just nevermind. I'm busy." "I wanna Speed Sew something. I like Speed Sew. I want some of that." I point to the foam. She has a pink quilt and her bed is neatly fixed. The door is closed and the butter knife back in place. Noopy curls up beside me and I get right to work. Mommy draws circles on the foam with a black felt pen. Then, she cuts the circles out with her black and silver scissors. My young mom is always busy doing things with her hands, too. She likes to crochet and sew with her sewing machine. She's been gone for a while now. I feel the thickness expand in my throat, my eyes well and my chest is heavy. "When is my real mommy coming back, Mommy?" "Hmm? She'll come back soon, Babygirl. She always comes back." I try not to feel sad. She's still in the hospital because something happened. Something happened to her. I try not to worry but I always worry about both of them. They both had long hair, but now my young mom's hair is all gone. My god mommy goes to the hospital too sometimes. One time her wrists were in bandages and she had tubes to her nose and arm. She takes medicine from the doctor every day. Sometimes she takes too much. My god mommy always says, "If it wasn't for you, Babygirl, I wouldn't be here." I wonder and wonder, what do those words mean? I don't like the hospital. I use the black pen and scissors and cut my foam into circles too. Then I Speed Sew them together. She glues foam circles to the inside of a pair of brand new stretchy panties; the kind with the girdle that holds her tummy in. Speed Sew is rolled up in gooey balls over my fingers. When I look up she's wearing those stretchy panties and the foam makes her bum huge. Then she pulls on her slacks. She stands in front of the mirror looking at it from side to side."Holy cow! Mommy!" I point at her huge, brand new bum and poke the squishy foam."Ah! You! Don't you look at me!" Her face is a shade of red that I've never seen before. Then, she sits down and tugs them off. "Go on now! You go play!"

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