It's not easy starting a magazine.
You have to find funding and people to do the writing, editing and page layout. You have to line up a press to print the editions, then distribute them.
But somehow, School District 43's aboriginal education department, in partnership with teens who are involved in the Aboriginal Youth Leadership Council, managed to do all this and more in less than six months.
In June, the team — led by SD43 district principal Philippe Brulot, youth worker Dannielle Battise and teachers Anthony Marrello and Kirk Gummow — will publish a second edition of The Canoe.
The publication aims to tell a positive story about aboriginal culture and accomplishments in SD43 and Brulot says two other school districts, Mission and Surrey, have teamed up to provide articles and funding, meaning The Canoe will spread its message even further.
"We are teachers, we want to educate people — not just staff, teachers, children and parents. But we want to share, we want to promote B.C. we want to talk about the good things happening in B.C.," Brulot said.
One of the tenets of aboriginal teaching is sharing stories and The Canoe is primarily about that, Brulot said, noting there will be a section honouring local elders and articles by and about local First Nations.
Seed money for the project came from Byron Sheardown, owner of Web Express in Coquitlam, who has aboriginal ancestry.
Already the first edition shows promise with articles by and about SD43 students and programs, photographs and even a cartoon strip drawn by Gummow.
The goal is to get the publication running so it's self-sustaining, possibly with students taking over some of the layout responsibilities in addition to the articles they are already writing, said Batisse, who is taking a course in the pagination program Adobe InDesign.
And with more school districts coming on board, The Canoe has grown from 16 pages and 1,000 printed editions to 32 pages and 15,000 copies to be distributed widely in the three school districts.
An international perspective is also being considered, said Brulot, who is talking with the publisher of an Australian publication called National Indigenous Times to share content. Eventually, The Canoe could be the start of a locally-developed course, with students getting college credit for participating.
Brulot, whose most recent post before coming to SD43 in November was superintendent of the Nass Valley School District, said The Canoe reflects the principles of the Truth and Reconciliation report, which urged governments to do more to inform and educate the Canadian public about the aboriginal experience.
"We must be proactive. We have to take leadership and School District 43 is taking leadership and going a step beyond."