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Inuit youth in Canada invited to work on educational comic book project

Tungasuvvingat Inuit, an Inuit-specific urban services provider, is calling on Inuit youth across the country to help make a graphic novel that turns difficult legal jargon into a more understandable format.

'It's youth voices talking about youth rights instead of adults explaining it'

A sample of the art by Aija Komangapik, who says she might help work on Tungasuvvingat Inuit's comic book project. (Aija Komangapik)

Inuit youth in foster care will soon have a new resource to help them understand their rights. 

Tungasuvvingat Inuit (TI), an Inuit-specific urban services provider that offers community supports, has been calling on Inuit youth across the country to help make a graphic novel that turns difficult legal jargon into a more understandable format.

Julie Hodson, the organization's child and policy manager, says they've been looking for a way to educate parents and children about the rights they have when dealing with family and child protective services. 

"We were looking at kind of the documents that are out there and are written by adults … they're so dry and boring and kind of hard to understand with legal language," Hodson said.

She said her colleague came up with the idea for the graphic novel in hopes that young artists could interpret those rights and then illustrate them in a way that make sense to them.

"It's youth voices talking about youth rights instead of adults explaining it. And specifically, it will be a way to also kind of celebrate Inuit culture and Inuit artists and storytellers," Hodson said.

"[It's] just really about empowering youth to empower other youth."

 So far, 16 young Inuit have shown an interest in the project and four have signed on.

Aija Komangapik is among 16 youth who have expressed interest in working on Tungasuvvingat Inuit's comic book project. She says putting material that's difficult to understand into a comic book makes it more accessible. (Submitted by Aija Komangapik)

Aija Komangapik, who CBC News reached in Sherbrook, Que., is among those who might contribute to the graphic novel.

"I love comic books. I love illustration. I'm hoping to do more illustration work in the future, because I'm doing it now, but not as much," Komangapik said.

"I just wanted to help out with that kind of stuff so that there's more perspective when people try and tell our stories … I feel like it was good that they [TI] reached out to the community."

Komangapik said putting material that's difficult to understand into a comic book makes it more accessible.

"Especially when you're a kid, you don't really want to be bombarded with lots and lots of … information," Komangapik said.

"When it's put into a comic book, it's easy to interact with, and I guess, digest."

Any Inuk in Canada, between the ages of 12 and 29, can participate in the project.

The final comic book is expected to be available online in the fall, and some printed copies will also be available at children's aid societies in Ontario.

With files from Meral Jamal

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