Growing up Ren Louie felt the need for more indigenous representation in children’s literature.
“It was either underrepresented or misrepresented, those were the two choices,” says Louie looking back at his childhood.
Flash forward to the beginning of the pandemic. Now 23, the Ahousaht First Nations member decided to put pen to paper and become a children’s author to share his culture and experiences growing up.
“Just before the pandemic started I started the story and I had lots of friends that said ‘if I read your manuscript you’ve got to send this in,” says Louie. “So, I did and I got with Medicine Wheel Education and they loved it.”
“Ren worked really really hard and along with one of our editors, they got together and they created this amazing book,” adds Medicine Wheel chief executive officer, Teddy Anderson.
The book entitled Drum from the Heart follows the journey of a young First Nations boy, fittingly named Ren, who receives a drum from his mother and gains confidence in himself while singing and playing traditional songs.
“It’s a story about when I was eight years old and how I got my first drum and started singing and how that boosted my confidence,” says Louie.
“I was a shy kid and so I needed this as an outlet to express myself and express my spirituality,” adds Louie.
It’s been an exciting project and it’s also presented Louie with the opportunity to work hand in hand with his family and elders from his own community.
“I worked with my grandma, I worked with my mom,” says Louie.
“Also the other elders I would read a bit of the story or talk about that and I’ve had a lot of elders reach out since and just really congratulate me for this accomplishment,” adds Louie.
Most importantly the book is giving First Nations children a story and character to relate to.
“Ren provides a voice for his community that’s very very powerful,” says Anderson.
“Now there’s authentic representation and own voice stories which is important,” says Louie.
Drum from the Heart is currently available for pre-order on the Medicine Wheel Education website.