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Mindy Willett

Region: 
North Slave
Community: 
Yellowknife

Artist Story

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.

 

Artist Bio: 

After teaching high school in Kugluktuk, Nunavut from 1996-2000 Mindy moved to Yellowknife and established a company called Cranberry Consulting.  For 13 years Mindy developed classroom resources in-conjunction with local experts to ensure they were culturally responsive.  Through writing resources for schools Mindy developed a love of writing and wanted to explore other genres and has since published for magazines and academic journals.  Starting in 2005 Mindy has co-written 8 children’s books with Aboriginal authors in the series called, The Land is Our Storybook. In April of 2013 Mindy joined the Department of Education Culture and Employment as the Social Studies and Northern Studies Coordinator but continues her passion for writing in her spare time.  She is currently working on three different book projects.

Last Updated: March 31, 2016

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