New DC Comics superhero inspired by young Cree activist

A new comic superhero for DC Comics will take the form of a teenage girl from James Bay. Toronto cartoonist Jeff Lemire says Shannen Koostachin — a young Cree activist from Attawapiskat — helped inspire him.

Shannen Koostachin is a real-life role model who will provide inspiration in comics, MP says

Shannen Koostachin organized her fellow students in 2008 to lobby the government to replace temporary buildings with a new school in her community of Attawapiskat. She succeeded — but revelling in her victory was cut short, as she died in a car accident in 2010. Koostachin isn't far from cartoonist Jeff Lemure's thoughts in drawing up a new superhero for DC Comics. (Suppled)

A new comic superhero for D-C Comics will take the form of a teenage girl from James Bay. Toronto cartoonist Jeff Lemire says Shannen Koostachin — a young Cree activist from Attawapiskat — helped inspire him.

Lemire said the 15-year-old, who led fellow students to Parliament Hill to lobby for a proper school, isn't far from his thoughts in drawing up the new superhero.

“I think if I can capture some of that heart and some of that essence in this character, perhaps she'll almost be a guiding spirit in the creation of this character,” he said.

He came up with the idea of a Cree superhero because he was fascinated with the culture he saw while visiting Northern Ontario as a child, he said.

Lemire will write the stories and work with an artist on the depiction of the unnamed hero.

“This is not just a story that will be told in Canada, these comic books go all over, they go all over the world,” he said.

The ‘shadow of Shannen’

In two weeks, Lemire said he'll visit schools in Moosonee and Moose Factory to talk to students.

He's organizing a contest in which students will suggest new super powers for the character.

“There would be the cultural strengths,” he said of the character. “The family ties, the knowledge of the land, the rich, rich symbolism of the Cree on James Bay.”

The MP for the area, Charlie Angus, said there's a huge need for role models and heros who First Nations can look up to. Koostachin is a real-life role model who can speak to them, he said.

“This shadow of Shannen, looking down on these youth today, is certainly something that would work within the comic book format,” he said.

Shannen Koostachin was killed in a car crash, in 2010, just before her sixteenth birthday.

A new school bearing her name is scheduled to open in Attawapiskat next September.

Lemire said the comics should come out sometime next spring.

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