A 200-page comic book called One Tribe Anthology will be launched March 2013 during the opening of a new elementary school in Attawapiskat First Nation.
The One Tribe Anthology, an all-ages publication, contains comics from both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal artists. It will be distributed free-of-charge to schools and libraries across Canada. It will also be available for sale in bookstores nation-wide with all proceeds going to Shannen’s Dream.
James Waley, who is coordinating the project, was inspired to create the anthology after attending a benefit to raise funds for Japan tsunami relief in 2011. Several months later, a state of emergency was called at Attawapiskat First Nation.
“I couldn’t help but notice that stuff happening in our own backyard wasn’t getting enough attention,” Waley said. “I thought I should try to do something. My background has always been in comics; it seemed natural.”
To make the project a reality, Waley proceeded to assemble a diverse group of artists who he has encountered and worked with over the last 40 years.
“I wanted to see this nice alliance of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal comic creators coming together for a cause,” said Waley. “I was so surprised by how much interest there is in comic book making.”
“In this day and age, it’s a lot to ask people to come onboard,” Waley said, grateful for the extensive support he has received on the project.
The anthology will be divided into three sections, which have yet to officially be named, but will be mainly based on Native stories, but include ‘other’ diverse stories.
Waley’s own comic strip is based on a character called ‘The Northern Light’ who has an enlightening encounter with an Elder.
“It’s a meeting of minds,” Waley shared. “It’s a short story of mutual respect.”
Interestingly, Waley learned after writing the story that Shannen Koostachin’s spirit name is Woman of the Northern Lights.
Prior to her passing, Shannen Koostachin led a youth driven moment, now known as Shannen’s Dream, advocating for equal funding for on-reserve education. On May 30, 2010, Koostachin was tragically killed in a car accident.
Koostachin’s dream of making culturally based education in “safe and comfy” schools available for all First Nations children and youth lives on through the foundation Shannen’s Dream.
“I’m 100% convinced that they’ll be a great recipient of the funds,” said Waley.
Chad Solomon, a comic contributor to the anthology, whole-heartedly agreed with Waley.
“It’s one of the most worthwhile causes I’ve heard in a long time,” Solomon said. “This is why I’m supporting it.”
Solomon, an artist from Henvy Inlet First Nation who currently resides in Peterborough, Ontario, is excited to be part of the project.
“It’s an incredible opportunity and experience to share stories,” said Solomon. “To get the young, and the young alike, to connect through graphic novels is amazing.”
Solomon, who describes his work as “awesome”, uses his comics as a way to share valuable cultural lessons.
“I use my work as a way to share traditional teachings which I learned as a kid,” Solomon said. “As I learn more, I share more of my story.”
To raise printing funds, One Tribe Anthology will be hosting a 60-day Indiegogo campaign beginning August 30. Indiegogo is an online international crowd-funding platform used to raise money.
To learn more about the project, visit www.onetribeanthology.ca or search for the One Tribe Anthology page on Facebook.
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