Stephenville Mi’kmaq Artist Releases New Series of Indigenous Coloring Books

STEPHENVILLE — Besides creating art, Marcus Gosse’s favorite thing in the world is creating learning resources.

The Mi’kmaq artist from Stephenville has already created coloring books and level readers and has just released three more volumes of coloring books.

“There is a great lack of resources within the Mi’kmaw culture,” Gosse told the SaltWire Network.

It was something he realized while teaching in the Mi’kmaq community of Indian Brook in Nova Scotia.

So in 2019, he combined his literacy and curriculum development skills and blended them with his graphic design skills to develop the first volume of ‘Coloring Mi’kma’ki: A Coloring Book of Mi’ kmaq Territory”.

The cover of volume three of the coloring book series
The cover of volume three of the coloring book series “Colouring Mi’kma’ki: A Coloring Book of Mi’kmaq Territory” by Stephenville Mi’kmaq artist Marcus Gosse. – Contributed

Although the coloring book was well received, people told it that it needed to be more educational and this could be accomplished by adding more language to it.

So Goose took the coloring books one step further and created three new volumes, turning them more into an educational resource by adding Mi’kmaq language, activities and numbers.

The new volumes include a glossary with English and Mi’kmaq words and phonetics for pronunciation.

Gosse said what is interesting about them is that they are relevant throughout the Mi’kmaw territory which extends from Newfoundland and Labrador to the Atlantic provinces, Quebec and the Maine.

“I want to show different areas of Mi’kma’ki, but I also want to show all of the components that I use in my Mi’kmaw art,” Gosse said.

It’s a lot of work, but it’s something Gosse enjoys doing and stems from his own interest in learning about his grandmother’s culture.

“I like to see young people, their families and loved ones learn about the culture together. And I think a coloring book and resources shouldn’t be leveled. Resources should be for all ages and everyone should be able to learn more.

A section of one page featuring a pine marten from volume two of the coloring book series
A section of one page featuring a pine marten from volume two of the coloring book series “Colouring Mi’kma’ki: A Coloring Book of Mi’kmaq Territory” by Stephenville Mi’kmaq artist Marcus Gosse . – Contributed

He said his coloring books have no age limit, adding that the whole family should be able to color while experiencing their culture and language together.

With an image bank to draw on, Gosse plans to create more resources with four more volumes or more coloring books planned.

“I want to take it to another level and have more activities in the books and have lesson plans at the end. So teachers can already have it in a format where they can teach the lessons in their classroom. »

He would also like to explore other topics such as conservation and environmental stewardship.

The Qalipu First Nation purchased some of Gosse’s early coloring books for use at a summer camp run in partnership with the Grenfell campus.

Kristen Pittman, head of education and training for the group, said the group has also purchased some of the new ones it will incorporate into some of its activities and programming this year.

“It’s great because our department is looking at ways to help the school district and the Department of Education integrate Indigenous learning in all aspects. And we, as a ministry, seek to integrate Indigenous learning and Indigenous culture into many aspects of our youth’s learning. So having resources locally is absolutely phenomenal.

In her role, Pittman knows it can be difficult to find Indigenous books and learning resources. The group is working with Good Minds, an Ontario-based First Nations family business that provides Indigenous educational resources to schools, to source Indigenous books.

“But these are not available locally.”

A page from one of the coloring books
A page from one of the coloring books “Colouring Mi’kma’ki: A Coloring Book of Mi’kmaq Territory” by Stephenville Mi’kmaq artist Marcus Gosse. – Contributed

Even with the “Bedtime Stories with Kristen and Olivia” video series she produces with her daughter, Olivia Burton, Pittman said it would be so much better to be able to tell people who love the books they share where they can. get them locally. .

“Having things local makes them so much more accessible.”

Having materials available locally also allows the group to support members of its community.

“And it’s just a fantastic opportunity for us to do that while supporting the learning of our young people.”

The coloring books were released on March 5 and are sold by The Rooms. Gosse said the quantity is limited and they are nearly sold out, but he will be looking to print more.

Anyone interested in purchasing a coloring book can contact The Rooms or Gosse Gift Shop via Facebook or Instagram Messenger or by email at [email protected]

About Stuart M. McFarland

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