Grand chief pens children’s book to promote Cree language, and address bullying

Mandy Gull-Masty, Grand Chief of Cree Nation, brought her dog Minnie — one of the inspirations for her new children’s book — to visit Voyageur Memorial Elementary School in Mistissini on March 18. She plans to tour other communities to read her book and talk about bullying. (Flora Weistche)

The Grand Chief of the Eeyou Istchee is now a published author. Mandy Gull-Masty just released her first book, called Minnie and Monica Make New Friends.

The children’s book tells the story of two dogs, Minnie and Monica, that move into a new home. The two try to make friends, and are instead bullied by other dogs in their neighborhood.

Through her book, Gull-Masty hopes to address bullying, starting with children in elementary schools across Eeyou Istchee.

“We all have to work together to address bullying and that even includes people in leadership,” said Gull-Masty.

The book is written in both northern and southern Cree dialects in honour of Iyiyiu Ayimuwin Pisimw, which is Cree language month.

“It seems that bullying is an increased occurrence that we’re seeing,” said Gull-Masty. “I see these parents that are writing statuses [on social media] about their children getting bullied at school. They don’t feel like going to school or they don’t feel like going outside to play.”  

She says the two main characters in her book were inspired by her own dogs and their unique looks.

Gull-Masty’s book, ‘Minnie and Monica Make New Friends,’ is written in northern and southern Cree dialects with English and French text. (submitted by Flora Weistche)

“I have two little hairless dogs. They don’t look like your typical dog, so I decided to feature them in the story because I thought it would be interesting for children.”

Gull-Masty recently visited a classroom of young children in the Cree Nation of Mistissini. Her dog Minnie was also a special guest for the students.

The Cree language is very important for Gull-Masty, and that’s another reason she wanted to write the book. 

“It was [also] to promote Cree language. It’s our contribution to highlighting preservation of culture and Cree language,” she said.

She hopes to promote more conversation around bullying in classrooms, in Cree. 

“We all have a role to play in addressing bullying. It’s not something that can only be addressed at the Cree School Board or only the Cree Health Board,” said Gull-Masty.

She has plans to visit other classrooms across Eeyou Istchee as part of a Minnie and Monica Make Friends book tour. 

“We have to show that we’re listening to our members. That’s the most important part and that even includes the smallest members in the Cree Nation,” said Gull-Masty.

Vanna Blacksmith

Related stories from around the North: 

Arctic: Sami-led project seek to revitalize Indigenous across Arctic Europe, Eye on the Arctic

Canada: “We still have a lot of healing to do with our fellow Canadians” – National Day for Truth and Reconciliation observed September 30, Eye on the Arctic

Finland: Finland prolongs Sami Truth and Reconciliation Commission through 2025, Eye on the Arctic

Greenland: Danish PM apologizes to Greenlanders taken to Denmark as children in 1950s, Eye on the Arctic

Norway: Can cross-border cooperation help decolonize Sami-language education, Eye on the Arctic

Sweden: Sweden to be quizzed on Sami rights, Radio Sweden

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