Blackflies by Robert Munsch, illustrated by Jay Odjick
There has been a lot of buzz (see what I did there?) around Blackflies, Robert Munsch's first book set on reserve, specifically located in Northern Alberta. The illustrations were done by Jay Odjick, who is Algonquian from Kitigan Zibi First Nation.
Mr. Odjick told me that he took the project "To try to open doors for other Indigenous creators and to try to show Indigenous kids a positive representation of themselves as drawn by one of their own."
- Read about Jay Odjick's experience illustrating the story from Windspeaker News, an Indigenous news source.
- Listen to a quick (6 min) interview with artist Jay Odjick
- Check out Jay's website or follow him on twitter
Munsch is not an Indigenous author, and so you may be wondering if this is a case of appropriation. There are many reasons why I feel comfortable putting forward this resource:
- Munsch has always been clear about his identity.
- This is not a re-telling of a teaching or a sacred story.
- The author is clear where the idea originated.
Mr. Odjick agreed: "While Robert is non-native, there is a First Nation creator on the book in myself; and in truth this presents a unique opportunity to show that there IS a market for First Nation content that would surpass say, just me writing and drawing as Robert is a HUGE name in the field."
Questions to Consider
- How can I highlight Indigenous artists in my classroom?
- How do these artists want to be identified?
- How can these artists become a starting point to learn more about their communities?