Alumna Leona Prince is teaching children about identity, connectedness in her new book A Dance Through the Seasons.
Dreams play an important role in Indigenous culture. They provide meaningful connections to a person’s past, present, future, and traditions.
When Leona Prince was gifted a dream from her friend and colleague Shelien Hadfield, it was something she took quite seriously.
“The dream was about me and about the things that were about to occur in my life,” said Prince. “I went home and had to write this story and create this narrative to make sense out of the challenges and opportunities I was facing.”
The result is A Dance Through the Seasons, a children’s book written by Prince and beautifully illustrated by Carla Joseph, a Cree artist from Prince George.
The book was launched in May at UNBC. Written for students in Grades 4 through 7, Prince says the book comes from a personal place of growth and discovery.
“I wrote this book for students who also face challenges and opportunities in their pre-adolescent phase of life,” she says. “I believe growth happens cyclically. The book is about perseverance,recognizing your own gifts, learning with patience, and living your purpose.
“These are the messages I want young people to know and understand through my own experiences and the things that give me a sense of identity and connectedness.”
Prince is a Dakelh woman from the Lake Babine Nation and Nak’azdli and belongs to the Likh Tsa Mis Yu Clan. A descendant of the Stiche and Chief Kwah, she is the mother of three children.
As an award-winning educator, she is the School District 91 Principal for Aboriginal Education in Nechako-Lakes. Prince is also a UNBC alumna, holding Bachelor of Science (Biology, First Nations Studies) and Bachelor of Education degrees, and a Master of Education degree in Multidisciplinary Leadership. In 2017, she received a UNBC Distinguished Alumni – Professional Excellence Award.
She also earned an Indspire Award for Educational Leadership at the 2018 Guiding the Journey Educator Awards.
From the outset of the project, Prince knew she had to collaborate with Joseph to illustrate the book. Joseph is talented in her own right. She received her key to become the Prince George Community Arts Council’s artist-in-residence at Studio 2880.
Prince notes that the book is not only written and illustrated by Aboriginal women, but that the company, Fireweed Canada, is Aboriginal-owned.