Graphic novel Spirit marks the SSDEC’s 290th publication

Richard Van Camp’s book focuses on the importance of family support on mental health

FORT SMITH, NT – Graphic novel, Spirit, is a very important piece of work written by Richard Van Camp and published by the South Slave Divisional Education Council (SSDEC) for three reasons.

First, it holds the title of the SSDEC’s 290th Aboriginal language publication and Van Camp’s 20th book in 20 years. Second, it is being published in Cree, Chıpewyan, Slavey, and English, making it an excellent short story for Aboriginal language classes all across the South Slave and Canada.

And third and most importantly, it focuses on the importance of relationships and how a loving, caring family can support positive mental health. It brings awareness to the challenges of depression and mental health and encourages the reader to reach out to those who are suffering and help them rediscover their value and worth.

Author Richard Van Camp said, “I was devastated to read of a young man taking his life some time ago in one of our northern communities because of bullying and I immediately wrote down what I wished for him: I wished that in his final hours that there was a way to show him how much he was loved, cherished, adored, admired, believed in. And I saw, in that moment, a spirit of pure love and innocence coming to him to hold him.”

“I hope everyone who reads it is reminded of how precious they are and how we need everyone healthy and everyone strong. We all need and deserve support for who we are and where we are at in our lives,” he continued. “I pray it creates courageous conversations and gets people asking for the help they need if they need it.”

The artwork for the graphic flip book was drawn by an aspiring illustrator Emily Brown, who Van Camp had high praise for. “[She] truly captured the tone, the caring, the desperation, the sorrow, the everything this story conveys.”

Copies of the book are available through the SSDEC.

The SSDEC and Van Camp would like to thank Minister Glen Abernathy and the GNWT, Department of Health and Social Services for supporting this project.

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