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Magnetawan puts out colouring book featuring amphibians

Featuring Anishinabemowin names for the creatures, the project is aimed at language preservation
The colouring book put out by Magnetawan First Nation.

If you or your kids are fans of nature, or are looking to learn Anishinabemowin, you might be interested in getting your hands on a unique colouring book put out by Magnetawan First Nation.

Each page features photographs of common reptiles (many of them at-risk species) found on the First Nation reserve located in between Greater Sudbury and Parry Sound, which have been converted to colouring images through art tracing.

The creatures’ names are given in English, as well as both the northern and southern dialects of Anishinabemowin (with pronouncers included for those who are not fluent in the language).

Examples of creatures included in the colouring book include the Northern Watersnake (Keewatingong Nbi-gnebik) and the snapping turtle (Miskwadeseen Mikinaak).

Nadine Perron, a conservation biologist with Magnetawan First Nation, was one of several people involved in the project.

Other participants include Ali Postma, Samantha Noganosh, Alanna Smolarz, Terry Jones, Chevaun Toulouse and Mishiikenh Kwe.

Perron said the First Nation received a federal grant pre-COVID for a project to share traditional knowledge with the community. 

However, the employee behind the grant has since moved on, and the band had to figure out what to do with the money, as “it’s never great to have to return funds,” which was when the idea for the colouring book was hatched.

“We kind of took a step back and figured out a new way to create something individual and different, while keeping those same concepts of sharing knowledge and reclaiming language,” Perron said.

She said Magnetawan is a small community, and doesn’t have a lot of language keepers left, which is why this kind of project is so important. 

“It’s difficult to pass that knowledge on intergenerationally if you don’t have teachers, and you don’t have resources,” she said.

Perron said the colouring book includes both the northern and southern dialects of Anishinabemowin because Magnetawan is in between the regions where these dialects are common, and the community includes speakers of both dialects.

If you’d like to request one or more copies of the colouring book, email [email protected].

Heidi Ulrichsen is’s associate content editor. She also covers education and the arts scene.