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Student artists promote Cree

Paul Bickford
Northern News Services

Hay River (Dec 05/05) - Three South Slave high school students are helping bring elders' stories to life and promote the use of the Cree language.

NNSL Photo/graphic

Hay River high school student Krystal Chasse shows one of her sketches for an illustration in a book that will promote the use of the Cree language in South Slave schools. - Paul Bickford/NNSL photo

Larissa Lusty and Paula Paulette of Fort Smith's Paul William Kaeser high school and Krystal Chasse of Hay River's Diamond Jenness secondary school are each illustrating a book for Elders Legends and Stories for Aboriginal Literacy, a project by the NWT Cree Language Program.

Lusty, a 16-year-old Grade 11 student, says she is honoured to be involved in the project. "I think it will teach young people more of the Cree stories," she says.

The book she is illustrating is called "The South Slave Creature," based on a legend of a Slave River creature as told by Fort Smith elder Henry Beaver.

The other stories are told by another Fort Smith elder, Georgina Mercredi. "A Walk to Remember" is being illustrated by Chasse, while "Saturday Chores" is being illustrated by Paulette.

The books, which will each contain about 30 illustrations, will be in both English and Cree.

Hay River's Chasse, a 16-year-old Grade 11 student, has been working on her illustrations for "A Walk to Remember" for about a month.

Chasse says it's her first time illustrating a book and she does a lot of the work at home.

Art teacher Heather Villeneuve says the two Paul William Kaeser students are happy to be involved. "They're very honoured and excited," she says.

Paula Anderson, the co-ordinator of the NWT Cree Language Program, says this is the first time the program has created such story books. "We're trying to present the Cree language through elders' stories and legends," she explains.

The soft-cover books will be distributed to elementary students in the South Slave and to various organizations in the North.