Breanna Andrews, UNB Kinesiology Student and Knowledge Gatherer through the Pilawitahasuwan's Office, recently launched her book, titled Learning and Preserving.
The colouring book, dedicated to the learning and preserving of Indigenous languages of groups in Atlantic Canada, was written and illustrated by Andrews. As a young Inuit woman, Andrews first realised she wanted to write something like this early last summer.
"I always knew I wanted to have my own book as a child but never knew how to go about it or what I wanted to achieve. This book started last summer when trying to find fun ways for people to learn more about the Indigenous community," she said.
Andrews spent almost 4 000 hours crafting the book, ensuring that it had accurate and helpful information inside. To create the illustrations, Andrews went through a process of brainstorming, drafting, and referring to physical objects around her before spending hours perfecting the details.
"For the information in the books, in terms of the stories and translations into Inuttut, Innu and Mi'kmaq, I had a lot of help from my family, as well as co-workers, in languages I am not familiar with,” Andrews said, grateful for the support of her family. “They were extremely helpful in finding the exact words that I was looking for, and the stories were a mix of my own experiences and those of my coworkers."
Andrews feels that having a resource to learn about Indigenous communities and languages is extremely important because it's something she didn't get to fully experience growing up.
"A lot of people feel that trying to teach about Indigenous culture is a bit taboo due to history, so I really wanted to create things to not only help people, but educators to have a resource that would make it easy for them to teach the good things about the Indigenous cultures without feeling like they are overstepping," she explained.
Learning and Preserving has received a lot of support in the community, with many readers expressing their excitement about finally having an Indigenous learning resource.
"I've heard from a few nice readers. I didn't expect near the support I have received – it has been a whirlwind of people texting, calling, and sharing to their communities about how proud they are, how excited they were to get their copies and even sending photos of their copies of the book,” Andrews explained.