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SSDEC publishes A Journey Down the River in three languages

3rd Annual Children’s Storybook Contest also announced

FORT SMITH, NT – The South Slave Divisional Education Council is excited to release a new children’s story this fall called A Journey Down the River.

The winning entry of the SSDEC’s 2nd Annual Children’s Storybook Contest, written by Rachel Vander Veen when she lived in Fort Providence, was inspired by the on-the-land trips she had in the community. The rhythmic counting story encourages children to look for animals hidden in the water, sky, and on land as canoers paddle down the river. One eagle, two moose, three bears…what else will they spy?

The 28-page softcover book was illustrated by Hay River artist Neiva Mateus, who last year illustrated the winning Fish for You & Fish For Me! entry.

Like all SSDEC publications this story is a dual-language book with text in English alongside Chipewyan (“T” Dialect) Dene Dedlıne Yatıe), South Slavey (Dene Yatıé), and Cree (Nēhiyawēwin). The print book will also be reformatted as an ebook and uploaded onto the SSDEC’s free First Nations Storybook app, which is available for free on iTunes or Google Play.

Judge Richard Van Camp called all of the book contest entries “splendid,” while Brent Kaulback, retired assistant superintendent said of VanderVeen’s entry, “We loved the on-the-land theme, which will resonate strongly with communities across the NWT.

The 3rd Annual Children’s Storybook Contest has now launched and will run until the end of Indigenous Languages Month, closing on Friday, March 29. Entries can be submitted to Public Affairs Coordinator Sarah Pruys at

We hope to receive even more entries this coming year, and encourage NWT youth and adults to submit original, unpublished stories with strong northern themes.

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