British Columbia

This Indigenous educator launched her own publishing company to release her first book

Leona Prince wrote her own children's book — and created her own publishing company to release it — to inspire young women and Indigenous entrepreneurs.

Leona Prince, an educator in B.C.'s northern Interior, wants to inspire young women

Leona Prince, a mom of three kids, wanted to write a book about the challenges kids face in their pre-teen years. (University of Northern British Columbia)

A northern B.C. educator wants to dismantle the barriers blocking Indigenous women like her from entering the world of business.

Leona Prince wrote her own children's book to inspire young women and Indigenous entrepreneurs — and created her own publishing company to release it.

The result is A Dance Through the Seasons which tells the story of girl named Young Woman and what happens when those around her don't recognize her strength.

Prince, the district principal for aboriginal education in Nechako Lakes School District west of Prince George, already co-owned a book-selling company, Fireweed Canada, that specialized in Indigenous books.

Her new book released Friday is the company's first publication.

Prince said she wrote the story for A Dance Through the Seasons in one night and fiddled with it over the years. (University of Northern British Columbia)

"We wanted to venture out and take a risk because this trail has not been blazed very much, especially within our culture," Prince, who is Dakelh from the Lake Babine Nation, told Daybreak North host Carolina de Ryk.

Indigenous women going into entrepreneurship in Canada face barriers like lack of education, the inability to qualify for a loan and lack of access to male-dominated fields, such as construction, according to a 2017 study.

Story came from a dream

Prince believes her newest venture will be successful because of the desire for "truth telling" in Indigenous stories.

"That really is the essence of what we are trying to achieve: to get an accurate representation of our cultures."

Prince said the story's premise came from a dream that a colleague shared with her.

"She goes, 'I think it's about you.' ... And she told me how I would leave and go out on this leadership journey and come back and lead them."

That night, Prince went home and wrote the story in one sitting. The book was illustrated by Carla Joseph, a Cree artist from Prince George.

"She is Prince George's best kept secret," Prince said about illustrator Carla Joseph. (University of Northern British Columbia)

Readers will notice the characters have blank faces.

"I want children and other people to see themselves in Young Woman," Prince said, "and to think about their own journeys and their ability to persevere through anything."

With files from CBC's Daybreak North