Children play in the forest as the deer peacefully graze. They don leaves, pretending they are wearing the feathers of adulthood.

Credit: Radio-Canada, colour, 01:15


Of the possible themes for an animated film, Frédéric Back finds the Amerindian legends about natural phenomena to be among the most interesting. Often highly inspirational, they nearly always contain a comical twist that brings everything back down to human scale.

The Creation of Birds is a combination of two similar Amerindian legends, one told by the Algonquin and the other by the Mi'kmaq (the Aboriginal people of the Acadian region). Frédéric Back found the Mi'kmaq version-which features the Howling Wolf character-to be more evocative and so used elements from both.


The Creation of Birds tells of Howling Wolf, the wind of the storm, who terrorizes a group of children as they play. Sheltered by the trees, the children are hidden from Howling Wolf-who, frustrated, turns to White Bear, the cold and the snow, for help. But the prayers of a little girl touch the heart of Glooscap, god of the Mi'kmaq. He orders the Sun to chase away Howling Wolf and White Bear. Glooscap then brings the dead leaves back to life by transforming them into birds. Ever since, the miracle renews itself each spring as the birds return to the trees where they were born.


This film about the cycle of the seasons-one of Frédéric Back's cherished themes-also evokes the games and fears of Amerindian children, which are similar to those of children everywhere.