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Take note librarians everywhere – community engagement and library spaces

Here is a perfect example of community engagement in library space creation – from the Forest County Potawatomi Cultural Center, Library and Museum. They have generously shared a video documenting the creation of this incredible mural. The video is 19 minutes long, and worth every minute. A description of the project and the story told through the mural panels is also provided. What a meaningful and beautiful accomplishment – by all involved. Wow!

Redwire Magazine Call for Submissions

Redwire Native Youth Media Society is

[…] a media and arts organization dedicated to Native youth expression.

Redwire Magazine published its first issue in April 1997 with the support of the Native Youth Movement (a grassroots Native youth group) and the Environmental Youth Alliance. Today Redwire distributes 11,000 copies across Canada, four times a year. Redwire is the first-ever Native youth run magazine in Canada, and is committed to operating with Native youth staff, writers, artists and publishers.

Redwire’s mandate is to provide Native youth with an uncensored forum for discussion, in order to help youth find their own voice. Redwire is by, for and about Native youth; all content, editorial decisions and associated media projects are initiated and led by youth, inspiring creativity, motivation and action.

Redwire has put out a call for submissions for an upcoming issue of Redwire Magazine. See below for the details (text taken directly from message received from their Facebook group).

Redwire Magazine Technology Issue Submissions CALL OUT!!!

Redwire Magazine wants to hear what you have to say.

Our next issue is going to focus on technology in the Indigenous world.

We are looking for articles, poetry, letters, artwork, photos and stories about Indigenous peoples and the negative and positive sides of technology as a tool.

If you know anyone who uses technologies for their schooling or work or you know of technology having detrimental effects on your communities please feel free to write about it and send it to us here at REDWIRE MAGAZINE!!

Your views and opinions are important to us and we feel sharing these ideas will create a dialogue and raise awareness of issues that effect you and your respective communities.

An average article runs at about 750-1500 words and can be sent to: editor(at)redwiremag.com
Artwork and photos must be scanned at least at 300dpi and can be sent to: artsdirector(at)redwiremag.com

Or you can send them by snail mail to:
Redwire Magazine
P.O. BOX 2042
Station Main Terminal
Vancouver BC V6B 3R6
(phone) 604 602 7226
(fax) 604 602 7276

On behalf of the staff here at Redwire Magazine I thank you for your time and concern and we hope to hear from you and see your work soon!!!

Hychga / Thank you!!!

Ron Dean Harris / Ostwelve / Kwe-la / Mlo:hyleq
Editor
Redwire Magazine

Rabbit and Bear Paws – The Voyageurs

What is bravery? That is a good (and tough) question. Chad Solomon’s latest creation – The Voyageurs – does an excellent job of illustrating the concept in an accessible and entertaining way.

Rabbit and Bear Paws learn about bravery, or aakdehewin in the Ojibway language, as they embark on an adventure with a small group of voyageurs. They learn that bravery can take many shapes, be a private or public affair, and be ignited in oneself to test one’s strengths and limits, and/or out of love for another being. They experience and exhibit bravery throughout the adventure – while confronting a group of bandits, engaging in a playful (yet important) game of lacrosse, and taking a ride in a flying canoe. 

Though the subject of bravery could be presented in a very serious way, Chad Solomon and Christopher Meyer choose to present it with humour and magic, amidst a backdrop that illustrates and presents various Anishinabe and Mohawk traditions, words, important figures (Joseph Brant), and historical situations (trading).

With little time to read for fun right now (as I have an active 8-month old at home), Rabbit and Bear Paws The Voyageurs provided me with a much needed and entertaining break. Its humour made me chuckle and its illustrations were lively and complimented the text. It would be a good addition to any public and school library, or for your own private collection.

Our World

I came upon an interesting site today – Our World. Our World is a National Film Board (NFB) initiative focused on digital storytelling. Through workshops with First Nations youth in British Columbia and the Yukon, youth work to develop web-based stories.

There are several things that I like about this initiative:

  1. It is focused on First Nations youth sharing and celebrating their stories and experiences
  2. It builds capacity (i.e. video development)
  3. It is focused on cultural retention, with a particular emphasis on language retention
  4. It is using digital media to support cultural retention

Videos from 2006 and 2007 are available from the Nuxalk Nation (Bella Coola, British Columbia) and the Tlingit (Teslin, Yukon). All of the videos are so creative and wonderful. I particularly enjoyed The Drum Practice, by Doug Smarch…creative, humorous and well, the drum and singing…need I say more? 

I’d encourage you to take some time to visit the site and watch the videos.

Wapos Bay – Get it for your library!

I cannot rave enough about a children’s television series that airs on the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (APTN) called Wapos Bay. Wapos Bay, a stop-frame claymation series created by Dark Thunder Productions, features the lives of a contemporary Cree family and its friends in the fictional northern Saskatchewan community of Wapos Bay. It is chock full of wonderful teachings, humour, creativity, and very endearing characters. I have laughed and cried while watching this series – a true gem in children’s television – and purchased it for our son.

Each DVD in the series presents the episode in Cree and English, which is excellent given the rapid decline of Aboriginal languages in Canada. The series is also accompanied by a study guide that would be very useful in the classroom.

Visit these links for more information on the series and its creators:

To purchase the series, please visit:

Graphic Novels and Comics by Aboriginal peoples

Increasingly, we’re seeing graphic novels and comics authored by Aboriginal writers and illustrators. As a fan of graphic novels in general (and an avid reader of comics as a kid), I am super happy to see this growing body of work. 

Interested in acquiring these for your libraries or just because you want to support Aboriginal writers and illustrators? If so, here are some places to start:

  • Darkness Calls – Available through The Healthy Aboriginal Network (Canada)
    • Illustrated by Steve Sanderson (Cree), Darkness Calls focuses on discussing suicide, particularly as it impacts First Nations’ youth
    • Steve Sanderson was also showcased on Global National’s Everyday Heros program. Here’s the news clip.
  • Rabbit and Bear Paws – Little Spirit Bear Productions (Canada)
  • Sacred Circles (see page 3 of the linked document) – Birchbark Comics (Canada)
    • Sacred Circles and Birchbark Comics were created by Brandon Mitchell (Mi’kmaq), who is from Listuguj, a Mi’kmaq community located in southeastern Quebec
    • The website for Birchbark Comics is no longer active, so I’m not sure if they’re still in business (I hope that they are).

Another place to visit is Blue Corn Comics (United States), which has created the comic Peace Party. The creator of Blue Corn Comics is Rob Schmidt (non-Aboriginal). Blue Corn Comics involves Native American writers and illustrators in its work and has a Board of Advisors that reviews each script for accuracy and/or insensitivity to Native American cultures and peoples.

If you are aware of others that I’ve missed, please feel free to post a comment to the blog. Thanks!