Encounter by Brittany Luby

Activity: Conversations with Brittany Luby

We are so grateful that Brittany Luby author of Encounter stopped by to read her story. You can listen to these guided questions and conversations in the video above, led by Brittany, or read them with your family and loved ones below.

1. As I read Encounter, I want you to think about the point of view.

  • Whose eyes are we looking through? 
  • Whose experience are we following? 
  • How does our viewpoint or our experience shape our understanding? 

2. As you may have noticed, Fisher, Sailor, and the animals have different points of view. For example, Sailor left the ship believing he was going to “explore unknown lands in a new world.” 

  • Sailor had never crossed the Atlantic Ocean before. 
  • He had no experiences and no knowledge to contradict this belief. 
  • It wasn’t until Sailor met Fisher that he realized “perhaps these lands are not so new.” 

3. Throughout the story, both Fisher and Sailor make judgments based on past experiences. 

  • For example, Fisher, who worked on the Ocean, compared Sailor’s wide eyes to a Jellyfish. He was familiar with Jellyfish, which live in the Atlantic, and could make this imaginative connection. 

4. Difference makes both Fisher and Sailor feel uncomfortable at times. If you read  Encounter carefully, you may notice words like puzzled, hesitate, and cautiously.  

  • Fisher and Sailor don't shy away from differences. They are willing to get uncomfortable and learn from one another.  
  • You may remember that Encounter is based on a day of peace rather than a day of violence, both of which are described in Cartier’s diary.
  • I made this choice because I believe that we all need to be encouraged to think about our point of view.  

5. Sometimes, when I teach Indigenous History, I hear people defend their ancestors and  say,  “My great-great-great-grandparents were good, hardworking people.”  

  • They made decisions that loved you into being, but perhaps they were like Sailor.
  • When we read Encounter, Sailor does not appear to be a villain.
  • He is not a “bad” person. But, he does not think about the consequences of his actions. 
  • For example, we know that Sailor traveled across the Ocean in search of riches. We know he thought the lands were “new” or uninhabited (meaning without people). But, when he met Fisher, he did not stop and think: “Wait, if these lands are not so new and Fisher lives here, am I taking his riches?” 
  • Sailor may never have seen any gold in his lifetime, but by not asking questions–by not speaking up–Sailor did nothing to stop bad things from happening.

6. Sometimes, when I teach Indigenous History, I hear people say “I wasn’t like Sailor – he lived hundreds of years before me!” 

  • But, do you know whose lands you live on? 
  • If you do not know, I encourage you and an adult you trust to do a search online for native-land.ca.
  • Find your state or your province on that map. 
  • Whose territory is your home built on? 

7. Have you ever been like Sailor? Have you forgotten to ask who might have occupied the land before you? 

  • Whatever your answer, I have another challenge for you: Learn more about how Indigenous Peoples in your region describe “good relations.”
  • Talk with your family about what you can do to be better neighbors in the future.

8. I would now like to speak to the grown-ups in the audience. 

  • We must do more than learn about whose land we are on. 
  • We must think about whether we are honoring nation-with-nation agreements, whether we are upholding the treaties that allow us to occupy space. 
  • If you choose to seek out this information to deepen your conversations with children, remember that point of view matters. 
  • As you go about your research, consult resources posted by Indigenous groups like the National Congress of American Indians in the United States or the Assembly of First Nations in Canada in addition to resources published by the American or Canadian government. 
  • Here are some links below to start you on your research journey. 
  • May we learn from our history and take the opportunity to map a better future for the children in our lives. 

Digital Resources

Learn more about Stadaconans

Learn more about Jacques Cartier

Learn more about Canada's early history of settler-Indigenous relations

  • Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples [Canada], “Looking Forward, Looking Back [see “Contact and Cooperation”],” Library and Archives Canada, n.d., https://www.bac-lac.gc.ca/eng/discover/aboriginal-heritage/royal-commission-aboriginal-peoples/Pages/final-report.aspx. 
  • Dickason, Olive Patricia, and William Newbigging. “First Meetings.” In A Concise History of Canada’s First Nations, 23-40. Don Mills, ON: Oxford University Press, 2015. 
  • Dickason, Olive Patricia, and William Newbigging. “On the Eastern Edge of the Mainland.” In A Concise History of Canada’s First Nations, 41-59. Don Mills, ON: Oxford University Press, 2015. 

Learn more about America's early history of settler-Indigenous relations

  • Richter, Daniel. Facing East from Indian Country: A Native History of Early America. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2009. 

Learn more about Indigenous geography