Thursday, February 08, 2024


A Girl Called Echo Omnibus
Written by Katherena Vermette (Red River Metis)
Illustrated by Scott B. Henderson (not Native); Colors by Donovan Yaciuk (not Native)
Published in 2023
Publisher: Highwater Press
Reviewer: Jean Mendoza

Review Status: Highly Recommended

You might have seen AICL's positive comments about katherena vermette's graphic novel series A Girl Called Echo. I guess I should clarify that this "Echo" has nothing to do with the mini-series currently getting a lot of attention! I haven't seen it yet.

Vermette's protagonist Echo is a socially isolated Metis teen in what is currently called Winnipeg, Manitoba. She finds herself abruptly pulled against her will into key events in the history of the Metis -- events which involved some of her direct ancestors. She meets them, witnesses their individual struggles, and is just as abruptly transported back to her present. Her time travels carry her through generations of traumas and (often short-lived) victories. The past echoes in her. 

Gradually, in her present time, she makes friends at school. She connects with her seemingly tireless and caring foster mother, and prepares for her mom to come home from what appears to be an inpatient facility of some kind.

If you've appreciated A Girl Called Echo as much as I have, you'll be pleased to know that in 2023, Highwater Press published A Girl Called Echo OMNIBUS -- a collection of all four books, with some new informational material, evocative end papers, a foreword by Dr. Chantal Fiola, and a critical essay by Brenda Mcdougall. The timelines, maps, and other information from the individual volumes are also part of the Omnibus, providing important context for Echo's experiences. It's available in paperback and as an e-book. 

The Omnibus is a visually pleasing, "one-stop" resource for fans of Echo, for educators, and for anyone who wants to better understand the history of the Metis in what is currently called Canada -- and how that history can play out in the hearts and minds of contemporary Metis, like Echo and her family. 

Portage and Main has also published a teacher guide for A Girl Called Echo, created by Anishinaabe educator Reuben Boulette. It's available as an e-book or in coil-bound soft-cover. 

You can view excerpts of it on the publisher's Web site -- highly recommended!

With the success of A Girl Called Echo, it's my fervent hope that we'll begin to see more graphic-novel explorations of Indigenous people's history of what's currently called the United States. -- grounded in the present as well as in accurate representations of the past.