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Book about Dene culture and northern animals wins storybook contest

The South Slave Divisional Education Council has announced the winner of its annual children storybook contest, Our Northern Rivers by Denise Broomfield Noel.

The story won the SSDEC’s 3rd Annual Children’s Storybook Contest. The book follows the author on a canoe trip as interacts with several northern animals, and tries to present the local Dene culture and heritage.

“I was always struck by the culture that was around me and tried to be very respectful of that, and to adapt my ways as best I could, to, to fit in and and show respect through that way,” said Broomfield. “So the book came about, largely because of that.”

Broomfield works as an educator, and is originally from Newfoundland. Broomfield said she was particularly struck by the signs around town in Fort Simpson where she lives, which explain Dene laws and heritage. 

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She saw a posting about a competition to publish a children’s book, run by the council, and saw this book as “a perfect marriage of those two things.”

The story is available as dual-language books with text in English, alongside Chipewyan (“T” Dialect Dëne Dédlıné Yatıé), South Slavey (Dene Yatıé), and Cree (nēhiyawēwin). The print book will also be made available on the e-book on the education council’s First Nations Storybook app.

“I just love that I’ve had the story read now to some of my own grandchildren, and some friends’ children, and they sit and they’re quiet, and they’re listening, and they’re attentive,” said Broomfield.

“I can’t ask for anything more of my book than that, like so many other wonderful books I have seen do that for children — I’m so happy. I consider that a job well done.”

“The story’s respect for nature and the traditions of the North make it a fine addition to our growing library of more than 300 Indigenous language books,” Dr. Curtis Brown, Superintendent, South Slave Divisional Education Council, said in a statement.

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