Saskatchewan·Creator Network

La Ronge, Sask. environmental activist hopes new book will get kids thinking about the land

A children's book author and illustrator hopes her new book will inspire people to take action to help protect the environment.

Author and artist Miriam Körner says her grief over local logging prompted her to write

La Ronge author and artist Miriam Körner talks about the inspiration for her new children's book Fox and Bear

2 months ago
Duration 4:55
Video by Brandon White in collaboration with the CBC Creator Network.

This story originally published Dec. 2, 2022.

"It terrifies me. If we don't take care of the forest right now, then what are we going to lose?" Miriam Körner asks.

Körner is passionate about where she lives. She left Germany 21 years ago to travel around the northern hemisphere. When she got to Northern Saskatchewan, she fell in love with dog sledding, met her partner and never looked back.

These days Körner, her husband and their 10 sled dogs live in a cabin the couple built in La Ronge, Sask. She's an author, artist and educator with the Northern Sask. Indigenous Teacher Education Program.

Körner is also the founder of For Peat's Sake, a group dedicated to protecting muskeg and peat moss in her area.

Miriam Körner in her art studio in La Ronge, Sask. (Brandon White)

She describes her latest book, Fox and Bear, as a "modern day fable" that tells the story of an ecosystem under siege.

"When I'm hearing this place is threatened by development, the first thing I think about is the Caribou," Körner said.

The Canadian government classifies Woodland caribou in Saskatchewan's north as "threatened."

Miriam Körner walks through clearcutting in her area of La Ronge, Sask. (Brandon White)

In the book, Fox and Bear live a simple life in the forest, but when Fox decides he needs more convenience, things change. He builds a power generator, machinery and a chain saw to cut trees down. His industrious actions cause a ripple effect that destroys the forest and harms animal habitats.

"Humans are always striving for the one thing that nature isn't willing to give — convenience," Körner said.

A fox made out of cardboard for the book Fox and Bear, by Miriam Körner. (Brandon White)

Körner has written five other books and is currently working on a collaboration with Indigenous elders in her community, as well as her third novel.

She said she was inspired to write Fox and Bear after seeing that the forest was being chopped down all around her. 

"I loved the forest, and I spent a lot of time in the forest with my dogs and in winter time with my canoe in the summer time. I have so much appreciation for what the forest provides for us."

A chainsaw made out of cardboard for Miriam Körner's book, Fox and Bear. (Brandon White)

As an art teacher, Körner has strong connections to the children in La Ronge, which is about 350 kilometres northeast of Saskatoon. She hopes this book will make them think, raise questions, start discussions and brainstorm solutions to the growing climate crisis.

"I think children are such great teachers, [they] have such incredible compassion," said the author, who also created stunning and intricate miniature dioramas out of paper and cardboard to be photographed for her book.

Author and activist Miriam Körner looks out at the clearcutting in a forest near La Ronge, Sask. (Brandon White)

Körner said humans need to take an honest look at themselves and figure out what needs to change to save the land they're living on.

"We created all this. Why can't we create something new that brings us back into a [relationship] with the natural world?"

Fox and Bear was released earlier this month. It can be purchased at local independent book sellers or ordered through the publisher, Red Deer Press.

Miriam Körner sits in her studio in front of the artwork for her book, Fox and Bear. (Brandon White)

CBC's Creator Network is looking for emerging content creators to make short videos (5 minutes and under) for an 18 to 30-year-old audience. Content creators can be writers, filmmakers, vloggers, photographers, journalists, artists, animators, foodies or anyone else with a compelling idea and visual plan for bright and bold content. Learn how to pitch your idea here.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Anna-May Zeviar is the Creator Network producer for CBC Saskatchewan. She also produces the CBC Saskatchewan News at Six. Anna-May has worked at CBC since 2000, starting in Vancouver. She's worked in BC, Alberta and Saskatchewan as a reporter, writer, host, and producer. If you have story ideas or a pitch for the Creator Network, email anna-may.zeviar@cbc.ca.

With files from Brandon White

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