Cole Pauls's comics preserve First Nations language — and also celebrate punks eating pizza

"The first time I read an Indigenous comic book, I felt empowered."

'The first time I read an Indigenous comic book, I felt empowered'

(Camille Vernet/CBC Arts)

Cole Pauls is a Tahltan First Nation comic artist, printmaker and illustrator, now in Vancouver but originally from Haines Junction, Yukon. And he's exploring two major parts of his life in his two comic series.

The first, Pizza Punks, is pretty self-explanatory. (Pauls says, "The more pizza I ate, the more ideas I thought of. The more punk music I listened to, the more I wanted to incorporate that into it. It's kind of just a snowball effect.") The second, Dakwäkãda Warriorsfollows two Indigenous superheroes who are busy saving the world from evil of various forms. One of their secret weapons? Language revitalization.

Watch the video:

Cole Pauls and his Indigenous punk comics

4 years ago
Duration 4:14
Tahltan comic artist Cole Pauls has been inspired by punk music, pizza and carrying the legacy of Southern Tutchone language through his comic art. Filmmaker: Camille Vernet

In this video, you'll meet Pauls in the studio as he works on some drawings and tells you about why it's meant so much to him to include Southern Tutchone language in his comics (there's a glossary in the back, so you get to pick up some vocabulary as you go). To make it happen, Pauls got help from Vivian Smith, who has taught him Souther Tutchoneto since he was in kindergarten. He also got support from the elders in his community, who shared their stories with him. He says, "Because I've spent so many years learning it, I felt the responsibility to incorporate it into my work. Because my dad never got to do that; my grandmother never got to do that."

You're also about to get a heads up on Pizza Punks: The Movie (we're already pre-buying tickets). And it's another way that Pauls is shining light on his culture and encouraging young Yukoners to be proud to belong to their community.

Follow Cole Pauls here.

(Moniker Press)
(Moniker Press)
(Moniker Press)

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Camille Vernet is a video producer at Radio-Canada. In British Columbia, she produces pieces on the web, radio, and television. She is particularly interested in social issues and environmental issues related to climate change.