UNB Alumni
Telling our #ProudlyUNB stories

'Learning and Preserving' Indigenous languages through illustrations

Author: Breana Andrews

Posted on Jun 9, 2021

Category: UNB Fredericton

This story is part of the Voices of UNB Alumni series and is written by Breana Andrews (BScKin'21)

My name is Breana Andrews, I am from Happy Valley-Goose Bay, Newfoundland and Labrador and I recently graduated from UNB in May 2021 with a Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology. While the human body has always been a passion of mine, art and storytelling have also always been there.

Since I was a young girl, I had been creating art in some form. One moment that sticks out in particular, is sitting at my kitchen table and having to draw art from a novel we read. I remember in that moment, at all of ten years old, that I wanted to publish my own book. Consider that a key moment where a fire was lit.

Growing up Indigenous, a reader, an athlete, and many other things, I always realized that characters in media never looked like me. There was no culture like mine represented- and I wanted to change that.

This is where Learning and Preserving started. I got to work under Jason Hickey and Under One Sky Friendship Centre in summer of 2020, and the initial goal was to create a form of mental health resource. A resource like papers wasn’t enough for me, and I knew that someone like me could use art to express their feelings. After many hours that exceeded the summer work, I decided to self-publish Learning and Preserving so that it could become a physical book. While this didn’t feel real in the hours I spent in front of my computer formatting and creating, the day I received my Copyright License and Rights to the book (as pictured above) is where I knew I accomplished all I once dreamed of.  It was even more exciting as Under One Sky could receive their copies, and other groups in Atlantic Canada that reached out wanted to have this resource, and publishing it allowed me to do that.

Learning and Preserving is a colouring book with images I illustrated that revolve around different Indigenous cultures throughout Atlantic Canada. Along with these images, are the translations of words into inuktut, innu-iam and mi’kmaq, and their meanings to the different groups. Some of these images are of animals such as seals, tents, and berries. For me, being able to use these photos and languages not only was a learning experience for me, but also means that I get to preserve something that means so much to me.

 I spent the majority of the past year back in Labrador. I finally returned to Fredericton in April, and out of isolation, I got to drop-off copies of Learning and Preserving to Under One sky. Being able to see the impact of my book in the hands of children, learning and enjoying themselves is why I have enjoyed this journey so much.

Representation is so important to me, and knowing that the children of today’s world may feel like media around them is not only relatable, but impactful as they have characters like them, is why I write and illustrate. While I do have other books in the works to be published in the upcoming month or so, if you ever want a copy, you can always reach out to me, or find Learning and Preserving on amazon.

Never forget to support your Indigenous students, friends, and artists. As you never truly know the impact it can have on their life.