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Stephenville Mi’kmaw artist paints a picture of his culture with words

Marcus Gosse is a Mi’kmaw artist from Stephenville who has published a series of levelled readers for Grades 1 to 3.
Marcus Gosse is a Mi’kmaw artist from Stephenville who has published a series of levelled readers for grades 1 to 3. — Contributed

Marcus Gosse authors series of levelled readers designed for early elementary classrooms

STEPHENVILLE, N.L. —

Marcus Gosse remembers visiting his grandmother in St. David’s as a child and her hauling out the photo albums, telling him about his Benoit and Young relatives.

“She would show me these books and she’d say, ‘you know, you’re Mi’kmaq’ and talk about the culture."

Gosse said it was like she wanted to know more and would try to share all that she could with him. 

She was especially proud, he said, to see him later travel to different First Nation’s communities and learn from them.



Two of the levelled readers written by Gosse The books will be available as learning resources for students through Gosse’s publisher, Rubicon. — Contributed
Two of the levelled readers written by Gosse The books will be available as learning resources for students through Gosse’s publisher, Rubicon. — Contributed

From that time with his grandmother, experiences learning and teaching in First Nation communities, and through his own work, the Stephenville artist developed a strong interest in preserving the culture of the Mi’kmaq. 

“I like being able to share and teach,” he said.

Those are two things he’s doing through the creation of a series of Mi’kmaw resources, levelled readers for grades 1 to 3, published by Rubicon, an Ontario publisher of K-12 learning resources for students and educators. 

“There are not a lot of books that are about the Mi’kmaq,” said Gosse.

That’s why he was happy to write the three books: “Mi’kmaq Artist: Marcus Gosse,” “Nukumi’s Words,” and “We Learn.”

The first tells his own story and why it’s important as an artist to learn about the culture. The second is the story of a boy who tries out different things until he finds drumming is a fit for him. The third shows different ways people can learn about culture.

Each reader contains keywords in bold print and also includes questions.

Gosse said no matter how introductory they are, a good thing about levelled readers is they can be used by anyone to learn about the culture. And the words can help people build up their own vocabulary.

It’s not the first time he’s worked on levelled readers with Rubicon. A few years ago, he was a reviewer for Rubicon’s “Glooscap Tales” series. He verified the legends written were accurate and that the material suited the graphic illustrations. 



“Mi’kmaq Artist: Marcus Gosse” tells Gosse's own story. — Contributed
“Mi’kmaq Artist: Marcus Gosse” tells Gosse's own story. — Contributed

Because of that work and Gosse’s experience with teaching and curriculum development. Rubicon asked if he’d be interested in creating his own materials.

He’s also shared the culture through his own Mi’kmaw colouring book and has been featured in Canoe Kids magazine.

Gosse said he’s learned there are many valuable ways to preserve culture and he’s humbled to be a part of doing so.

“I’m allowing people to understand the beauty of Mi’kmaw culture.”

He’s hopeful teachers in this province will look to Rubicon to purchase his books and use them in their classrooms. He has first-hand knowledge of how beneficial they can be.

His aunt, Beverly Drodge, obtained a set of the Glooscap books when her grandson was five or six years old.

“As a grandmother,” the St. John’s woman said, “it was wonderful to have them. 

“I could sit, cuddle with my grandson and we’d read about Glooscap, his escapades.”


Marcus Gosse. — Contributed
Marcus Gosse. — Contributed

 


The books were very easy to understand and the Mi’kmaw words were introduced throughout the series.

“So, it gave my grandson a little bit of knowledge about the Mi’kmaw words,” she said, noting the questions in the book were also fun. 

“It was great because we got to talk about my childhood, as well.” 

The Mi’kmaw legacy of giving back, giving thanks and respect are things Drodge feels people should know about.

For Gosse to be creating books of his own is part of his evolution, said his aunt.

“It was inevitable to happen,” said Drodge, who’s proud of her nephew and of his passion for the culture and preserving it.


Diane Crocker reports on west coast news. [email protected] | Twitter: @WS_DianeCrocker


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