How do you speak to children about grief? This award-winning author is opening a dialogue

Melanie Florence's powerful children's book Missing Nimâmâ explores the love between a missing Indigenous woman and her daughter.

Melanie Florence's children's book explores the love between a missing Indigenous woman and her daughter

Melanie Florence's powerful children's book, Missing Nimâmâ, explores the love between a missing Indigenous woman and her daughter. 2:29

Missing Nimâmâ is not your average children's story. The picture book, written by Melanie Florence with illustrations by François Thisdale, deals with the indelible love between a mother and daughter who have been separated. What makes it a critical read for children and families is that the mother is a missing Indigenous woman, speaking to her daughter from far away.

Missing Nimâmâ by Melanie Florence, illustrations by François Thisdale (Courtesy of Clockwise Press)

The book opens a dialogue about Canada's missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls through a story that makes staggering statistics deeply personal for each reader. Over 1,181 Indigenous women and girls were murdered or went missing between 1980 and 2012 according to an RCMP report — that's 1,181 women separated from their loved ones. But what makes Florence's book so affecting is that she doesn't fill her pages with statistics, or the descriptions of violence and tragedy that are often communicated by the media. Instead, Florence shares perspectives of grief and love from a mother and daughter through writing that floats over Thisdale's poignant illustrations.

In this video, Florence tells us about the story at the heart of Missing Nimâmâ, and why it was so urgent for her to tell it.

Melanie Florence and Francois Thisdale won the 2016 TD Canadian Children's Literature Award for Missing Nimâmâ.  

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About the Author

Mercedes Grundy

Mercedes Grundy has been producing videos for CBC Arts and Exhibitionists since 2015. She is a unabashed Leonardo DiCaprio enthusiast with an educational background in photography, and produces film and theatre when not busy here at the CBC. And while her love for the arts does not discriminate, she openly acknowledges she is a horrible dancer.