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Echo Desjardins, a 13-year-old Métis girl adjusting to a new home and school, is struggling with loneliness while separated from her mother. Then an ordinary day in Mr. Bee’s history class turns extraordinary, and Echo’s life will never be the same. During Mr. Bee’s lecture, Echo finds herself transported to another time and place—a bison hunt on the Saskatchewan prairie—and back again to the present. In the following weeks, Echo slips back and forth in time. She visits a Métis camp, travels the old fur-trade routes, and experiences the perilous and bygone era of the Pemmican Wars.

Pemmican Wars is the first graphic novel in a new series, A Girl Called Echo, by Governor General Award–winning writer, and author of Highwater Press’ The Seven Teaching Stories, Katherena Vermette.

48 pages, Paperback

First published December 5, 2017

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About the author

Katherena Vermette

29 books966 followers
Katherena Vermette is a Canadian writer, who won the Governor General's Award for English-language poetry in 2013 for her collection North End Love Songs. Vermette is of Metis descent and from Winnipeg, Manitoba. She was a MFA student in creative writing at the University of British Columbia.

Her children's picture book series The Seven Teachings Stories was published by Portage and Main Press in 2015. In addition to her own publications, her work has also been published in the literary anthology Manitowapow: Aboriginal Writings from the Land of Water. She is a member of the Aboriginal Writers Collective of Manitoba, and edited the anthology xxx ndn: love and lust in ndn country in 2011.

Vermette has described her writing as motivated by an activist spirit, particularly on First Nations issues. The title of her book refers to Winnipeg's North End.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 429 reviews
Profile Image for Dave Schaafsma.
Author 6 books31.5k followers
August 14, 2018
Pemmican Wars (A Girl Named Echo) is a Canadian comic, a very thin first volume in a comics series about a girl named Echo Desjardins, who is of Métis descent. (The Métis of Canada are of mixed First Nations and European ancestry.) Echo is in foster care as her mother is in au specified care facility. She’s going to a new school, and blocks everything out there through the music in her headphones. She’s also disconnected to her own history, but a cool History teacher, just beginning a unit on the Pemmican Wars (1812-21), transports her to the nineteenth century and a time when different peoples in Canada fought to the death over food: Over the right to free trade, access to bison, fishing rights. Trade and food politics.

(Pemmican is a concentrated nutritious food originated with Northern American First Nations peoples, combining fat and protein, usually bison or elk meat, but it could be anything and any mixture. Often includes berries.)

Echo is transported through History class to the Saskatchewan prairie on a bison hunt, and learns of the struggles between the Northwest Company and the Hudson Bay Company. Ethnic struggles, class struggles, a struggle for self-determination, of survival.

I liked this comic about what Howard Zinn would call People’s History, things most people don't know much about even within a country or within one’s own culture, things not typically taught in “mainstream” history courses, or in History textbooks used in schools (cf. Everything They Never Taught Me in History Class).

I liked the artwork of Scott Henderson in this comic, and I liked especially the many wordless pages, which surprised me. Usually history comics make the mistake of including too many words, and the result is an illustrated history. The effect of the fewer words here is to create more emotional resonance both in the historical scenes and in Echo’s present life. I’m not sure this is a great comic for story or art, but I like it. There’s lots of information in appendices, so I can imagine this being used in schools.

This is the second comic I have read focused on Métis history; the first is the carefully researched comics biography, Louis Riel, by Seth, about the controversial Métis leader:


Pemmican Wars: https:

Profile Image for Erin.
3,094 reviews484 followers
May 19, 2018
Thanks to Netgalley and Portage & Main Press for an advanced reader copy. Publication Date March 1st, 2018

A new graphic novel series that focuses on the audience learning more about Métis history. The illustrations are beautiful and I can see that this book is going to be a hit among educators. At 48 pages, I sure wish it had been longer, but it is a great start.
Profile Image for Bookishrealm.
2,084 reviews5,053 followers
July 2, 2021
Honestly it took my too long to read the first book in the A Girl Called Echo series. 3.5 Stars

Pemmican Wars is the first book int he A Girl Called Echo series which is a series that I've heard about for a long time, but never got around to actually picking up the books. This is a graphic novel that not only focuses on important aspects of Indigenous history, but also the results of colonization on cultural identity. The book itself focuses on Echo who appears to be having a hard time at school in terms of making friends; however, during her history class she is transported back in time where she meets individuals from a Metis camp. It is there that she learns more about and experiences the Pemmican Wars. There were some really good aspects about this graphic novel including the artwork. There is dialogue; however, a great portion of this book is focused on using art to tell the story. This isn't any easy task in any graphic work so I'm happy to say that Henderson did an amazing job. I did have a couple of hiccups with the execution of some parts of the story. This isn't in reference to the history, but the need to suspend disbelief. When Echo is transported to the Saskatchewan prairie no one seems to notice and/or care that she is from a different time and place. It takes away from the believability of the story. I understand that the history of the Pemmican Wars was probably more important to Vermette; however, I think that including some realistic character development in terms of the time travel parts of this book would have made for a more cohesive story. Nevertheless, I definitely am looking forward to picking up the next volume to continue on.
Profile Image for Chad.
8,137 reviews906 followers
September 22, 2019
The story of a quiet foster kid starting in a new high school. Her history teacher is teaching them about the Pemmican Wars and about Echo's people the Metis. I like how the story is mainly told by the artwork. I also liked how Echo's reading transports her back in time to the time she's learning about. The book is very short and decompressed.
Profile Image for Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship.
1,161 reviews1,258 followers
January 25, 2023
2.5 stars

A very slim graphic novel in which a troubled teen of Métis descent views scenes from Canadian history, specifically the Pemmican Wars of the 1810’s. If you’ve never heard of this—essentially a violent dispute between two trading companies, which also roped in local tribes who did business with them—don’t feel too bad about it (though maybe you still should brush up on Canadian history), as the largest confrontation seems to have involved under 100 belligerents.

Probably the most interesting aspect of this graphic novel to me is just how little is explained: there’s no narration, no thought bubbles, and Echo—the protagonist—has no confidants, so there are many pages with no text at all and readers have to make their own deductions from the pictures. Perhaps the best part is how skillfully Echo’s isolation and depression is shown without a word being said, as she moves alone through her high school and foster home, fending off others’ attempts to reach out to her. That said, without knowing how Echo understands what’s happening to her, her repeated appearance in scenes from history is certainly open to interpretation. Mine is that these are dreams or perhaps visions, not time travel, given that almost no one pays her any mind when she appears.

The historical aspect is very weak though, with overly expository scenes that nevertheless fail to acquaint the reader with the larger picture (I followed up by reading some Wikipedia articles about the Pemmican Wars and I’m still not confident about what was going on). These scenes felt to me far younger than the YA book it’s sold as, probably most appropriate for the 6-8 age group—though admittedly, they might lack the context to interpret the modern-day scenes. But the book is so short, so simplified and so reliant on pictures that I definitely wonder why it’s advertised as for teens and not younger kids; I’ve read middle grade histories more involved than this.

As far as the art, it is perfectly fine and expressive though not exemplary—and I did notice one picture that was seemingly copy-pasted where it didn’t really make sense (all the other, adult bus passengers are in exactly the same positions on a subsequent trip?).

In the end, I think I read this in about 20 minutes and that was taking my time looking at the pictures and trying to puzzle out the chronology at the end, so it’s very little commitment if you are interested and don’t have to pay (or don’t mind paying) full price.
Profile Image for Maggie Gordon.
1,896 reviews138 followers
March 27, 2018
One of the most frustrating trends with graphic novels lately is how many of them, particularly those aimed at youth, are so short that they can't deliver a satisfying story. Sure, the entire tale might be too long to tell in a single book, but each volume should have its own weight. Pemmican Wars gives us a brief introduction to Echo, a young Metis teen who seems to teleport to the past when she daydreams. It's an intriguing plot mechanism with plenty of room for educational possibilities, though the book really doesn't give you enough time with Echo and her world to get invested. Readers get a few mysteries, but no overall sense of what is to come. I do have a lot of hope for future volumes as Metis kids deserve their time in the comic spotlight, but I wish the publisher would reconsider the length of the books they are putting out.
Profile Image for Manybooks.
3,210 reviews104 followers
November 29, 2019
Well on an entirely aesthetic level, I absolutely do majorly adore Scott B. Henderson’s descriptive artwork (as well as Donovan Yaciuk’s sense and use of colour) for the 2017 graphic novel Pemmican Wars (pictures that for me totally do visually capture not only young Métis student Echo’s present life but also her amazement at being repeatedly catapulted back in time to the so called Pemmican Wars of Western Canada or what is now Western Canada and the sadness and terror of the Battle of Seven Oaks). However and my aesthetic delight regarding the artwork for Pemmican Wars notwithstanding, I indeed do very much wish that author Katherena Vermette’s text were just a bit more expansive and verbally rich, for honestly, and as someone who tends to be considerably more printed words than illustrations oriented, Vermette’s narrative (mostly the comic book blurbs spoken by especially Echo and her teacher), whilst certainly evocative and emotional enough are also not nearly sufficient to adequately satisfy my own reading curiosity and to in any manner answer the many questions that I have.

And although yes, I do know and realise that Pemmican Wars is to be continued, even with this known factoid, I for one really would want and indeed also need much much more text and as such more of a balance between Katharena Vermette’s writing and Scott B. Henderson’s illustrations and the lack thereof (that the narrative blurbs for Pemmican Wars are just so extremely sparse), this has certainly been somewhat disappointing to and for me, since yes, I always always do tend to want more words and less artwork or at least a similar amount of both being presented (not to mention that I also find it more than a bit strange how a modern Métis teenager wearing cargo pants and a T-shirt is immediately accepted in the early 19th century when Echo goes back in time, that neither Marie nor anyone else at the Métis camp ever wonders or asks questions regarding Echo’s modern clothing).
Profile Image for Karl .
459 reviews11 followers
June 26, 2018
Scott B Henderson is a solid illustrator. His work is featured prominently across the indigenous graphic novel spectrum.

Unfortunately I thought Vermette’s storytelling was a little lacking. I wanted to know more about the main character Echo. Why is she at a new highschool ? Why is she estranged from her mother ? Why doesn’t she know much about her Metis culture ?

The book was very short and if some of these background details were included it would have beefed up the page count.

I’m looking forward to Volume 2. Highwater Press does quality work. I picked this up through indigenous book distributor www.goodminds.com. They have an exhaustive catalogue of indigenous books.
Profile Image for Elizabeth A.
1,853 reviews111 followers
May 22, 2019
I loved history as a kid, but how it was taught in school bored me to tears, and unfortunately this series reminded me of those school days.

This graphic novel series gets points for being #OwnVoices, and educating teens about the history of the Métis in what is now Canada. Echo Desjardins is a 13-year-old Métis girl having a hard time adjusting to her new life. She also knows nothing about the history of her people. One day in history class, she suddenly finds herself transported to another time and place, and gets a chance to see the history of her people unfold before her very eyes. In the first book she transports back to the early 18oos, and in the second book she visits 1869. If you know how history works, things do not end well.

I didn't know about the Métis, and was a tad confused about some things until Wikipedia informed me that "m��tis as a noun for people of mixed European and indigenous American parentage in New France." Got it.

I liked the premise of using time travel to show history - if only all classes could do that! - but how that actually played out made no sense. A girl, a stranger, wearing jeans, shows up in the 1800s and everyone seems totally cool with her? Also, Echo herself seems to have no questions or angst about her ability to time travel. So, maybe that was not the point, but it annoyed me.

The history that she witnesses is disturbing (not a surprise), but the characters and dates and plot points were too reminiscent of boring history texts. Maybe the problem is that each of the two volumes in the series so far are too slim to cover all that needs to be explored. More pages might have given both timelines room to flesh out more fully, and hence be more compelling. I liked the art, and appreciate what the author is trying to do here, but I won't be continuing on with this series.
Profile Image for Rod Brown.
5,549 reviews198 followers
January 28, 2021
A Métis teen named Echo finds herself unstuck in time, bouncing between her history class in the present day and an early 19th century Canadian trade conflict called the Pemmican War. It's not an original time travel concept, but I'm interested in finding about Echo and this particular bit of history of which I'm entirely ignorant.

For instance I now know that pemmican is a paste made of bison meat and berries that can be stored for years, helpful for getting through a long Canadian winter -- a precious commodity in 1814.
Profile Image for Ashley Rose.
512 reviews121 followers
August 1, 2021
No rating due to the material being based off real events.

This was a super quick read, I think what would benefit it more is if it was longer, but I loved learning about the history of the Pemmican Wars considering I'd never learned about it before despite me myself being Canadian.
The art was nice, I loved the scenes in the past but also really felt how Echo felt in the present considering I was a very quiet child in school, so I could almost feel how she did in those moments.

I'm looking forward to reading the rest of the volumes and learning more about our history alongside Métis history.
Profile Image for Laura Tenfingers.
564 reviews90 followers
November 28, 2020
A graphic novel where we follow a Metis girl living in foster care, disconnected from her heritage, as she learns about her people's history in school. We spend time in the present and in the past as she's transported there.

I didn't realize it was only 47 pages long, one of the drawbacks of reading an ereader... But it was a good intro. I'm not sure why all volumes aren't rolled in to one? I'm going to keep reading them and see where this takes usamd her.

I learned something new and it's a great format for reader's of any age and interest level to learn something new.
Profile Image for Fraser Simons.
Author 9 books243 followers
November 5, 2021
This is purely setup, so it’s hard to say? There is no arc… we follow Echo as she has similar days at school repeat: no friend interactions, in history class she learns about a war and is affected by it, imagining the past actively. And then she visits her mom at the end.

It’s very short, very little letters or dialogue. It would be something like judging and rating a book by the first chapter… yet they have purposefully made it in this format so you can’t not evaluate it as it’s been produced. I did put a hold on the next volumes from the library, so we’ll see where it goes. I’m guessing by all 4 of these small volumes will make up one large, larger sized graphic novel trade. 250ish pages, rather than 65-70. (Typically a trade is 140ish).
Profile Image for Tammy.
482 reviews
October 15, 2020
3.5 Stars This is only volume 1 and pretty short to get a good feel of the characters, but I thought it was an intriguing start and I'm curious to know what happens next. I had also never heard of the Pemmican Wars or the Metis people of Canada so I like the diversity that it brings.

Popsugar 2020 Challenge - A book on a subject you know nothing about
Profile Image for Bibliomaniaque.
715 reviews325 followers
November 2, 2021
Bien que l'histoire en elle-même ne soit pas WOW, ce qu'on y apprend et la manière dont on l'apprend est intéressant. Echo, jeune métisse, en apprend plus sur son histoire pendant ses cours d'univers social. Elle se plonge aussi dans le passé.

Une phrase qui m'a marquée : "Tu n'es pas moins Métis parce que tu ne connais pas ton histoire".
Profile Image for Lata.
3,772 reviews207 followers
June 21, 2018
A start to a series that shows a bit of Metis history. The author focuses on a teen named Echo who seems disconnected from those around her. The author takes Echo from present day to the early 1800s and back again, allowing her to interact with a girl of similar age in the past. Echo sees tensions and racism in the interactions between the North-West Company (a rival to the Hudson's Bay Company) and the Metis. The artwork is really good, and at 48 pages, the story was short, but looked like it would be a good starting place for discussion.
Profile Image for Molly.
1,202 reviews52 followers
May 31, 2018
Echo Desjardins has just started at a new school, where she is struggling to fit in. In her history class, after an initial lecture on the Metis, she finds herself transported to another time and place, unsure of what happened and what it means for her.

This is the first volume in a series - it definitely piqued my interest, and I'm curious to see where it goes in the future.

I received access to this title via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Katrina.
29 reviews
January 24, 2018
Too short; I hope the next vol. is longer. Beautiful illustration, particularly when it comes to the coloring.
Profile Image for Samm | Sassenach the Book Wizard.
1,146 reviews247 followers
August 17, 2018
The artwork is absolutely beautiful (especially the vibrant colours). I love seeing schools teaching Canadian history and acknowledging everything done to Metis but also looking at the loss of identity a lot of ppl have after Residential Schools, multigenerational trauma and The 60s Scoop.
Profile Image for Josianne.
124 reviews1 follower
October 21, 2022
Beautiful artwork and accessible storytelling. I love that the authors included a timeline of the Pemmican Wars at the end of the graphic novel.
Profile Image for Darcy Roar.
941 reviews24 followers
July 18, 2018
This series feels like it has a ton of potential but it just get rolling very well in book 1. On one hand I rather liked that. The book has lots of similar panels with very little dialogue but it really puts the readers into what Echo is feeling, the isolation and depressive environment of it at least. I like the fantastical bits & I very much want to know where the story is going, but again, there just isn't much here yet. 4/5 for potentially good bones, 3/5 for actual content with high hopes for the next book.
Profile Image for Christine.
195 reviews3 followers
March 7, 2019
Too short. Doesn't tell much of a story, especially for an $18.95 cover price. I wish the writer would have waited until she had a more substantial amount of content. Volume 2 appears to be just as short.
Profile Image for Audrey.
526 reviews23 followers
August 15, 2019
2.5 stars. I found this volume in a bookstore and raced who could read it faster. The story seemed good and the art style is beautiful but I think I would need to read more volumes to start really getting invested.
Profile Image for Carolyn.
1,440 reviews79 followers
August 9, 2019
Cool concept, definitely so useful for an educational setting/purpose.
Profile Image for Malcolm.
1,767 reviews433 followers
December 14, 2020
Echo’s the new kid at school, and as is often the case it’s alienating, even more so because her mother has been institutionalised – nearby, in Winnipeg, but still distant from daily life. Her history classes take on a strange reality through her daydreaming where her distance takes on a new form, as she time travels to experience Métis life before colonisation by Canada (Métis being one of three groups classed as Indigenous in the lands claimed by Canada). It’s the first decade of the 19th century, and ‘Canada’ does not yet exist, although Métis are grappling with the arrival and imposition of colonies by businesses such as the Hudson Bay and North West Companies. Through this experience, Echo begins to engage with her Métis heritage, slowly.

It’s a compelling story carefully crafted, relying heavily on visuals to depict Echo’s inner life. I like aspects of taken for grantedness of it all, the way that Marie, Echo’s 19th century friend, seems unfazed by her 2010’s clothing and lack of knowledge, by the use of tonal and colour intensity to depict Echo’s loneliness – the unknown slightly grey new world she finds herself in at school, and the way a sympathetic teacher’s instruction gets replayed by Echo to teach her mother Métis history. It’s the first of (so far) a three part series, from the fabulous Winnipeg-based company Highwater Press, which does a good line in Indigenous graphic novels. I know Vermette has a great reputation as a novelist; I hope she continues to write graphic novels also.
Profile Image for Peyton.
199 reviews31 followers
March 25, 2021
Echo is a young Métis girl who is introduced to the history of the Métis in high school and begins having vivid dreams about what she learns. History class made me emotional and even precipitated some strange dreams when I was around her age, so I can relate to how she feels. This touching and beautifully illustrated series will appeal to teenagers and adults alike. I am excited to read the next installments.
Profile Image for Reading_seas0n .
845 reviews13 followers
June 25, 2022
A short graphic novel about a young Indigenous girl travelling back in time and seeing history occur: I can already see the threads discussing mental health in this book, too, because I recognize the motions being portrayed visually.
Profile Image for Victoria Peipert.
214 reviews6 followers
December 31, 2017
This graphic novel exceeded my expectations. I thought the story was unique and very well done as the beginning of a series - it was not nearly long enough and I can't wait to read the next one!
Displaying 1 - 30 of 429 reviews

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