When I was in a teacher in Coppermine (Kugluktuk) about 20 years ago, the students asked, “Why are there no books about us?” They were right – there were beautiful books about children from China and Africa, but there were few about them.
I have co-authored 8 children’s books in this series so far, with the goal of doing one in each official Aboriginal language in the NWT. I start by finding an individual who wants to co-author a book. Their story is written in their voice and is about their life in their northern community. The subject could be about fishing, harvesting, beluga or moose, berry picking, or the use of traditional medicines. I never know what each book will be about because as I spend time with the person and learn about their life, their story unfolds.
In the north you don’t have to look very far to find a good story or a great storyteller. However, it took a long time to find a publisher. I could probably decorate my kitchen in wallpaper with all the rejection letters I got! But it is very satisfying now that I see them coming together. The books are available in English and French but I still have more official Aboriginal language story teller to write with and then the final book is going to have the title of the series, The Land is Our Story Book. This final book will be about all the peoples of the North and it was co-authored with the late George Blondin. . It all comes back to promise I made to the students in Kugluktuk.