A Canadian teenager is the inspiration for a new superhero in development for DC Comics. Jeff Lemire, an illustrator and cartoonist from Toronto, says that Shannen Koostachin — a young Cree activist from Attawapiskat — inspired him.
Shannen Koostachin was 13 years old when she first challenged officials over canceling school projects. At age 14, when she spoke at news conferences and rallies, lobbying for a proper school, and was nominated for an International Children's Peace Prize. (You can find some videos of her speeches on YouTube.) Sadly, she died one year later - just before she turned 16 — in a car crash.
As CBC News reports, Jeff Lemire is working on a Canadian version of the Justice League, and has a vision of a new superhero, and really wanted a Cree superhero. He wants to involve kids from the First Nations community:
In two weeks, Lemire said he'll visit schools in Moosonee and Moose Factory to talk to students.
He's organizing a contest in which students will suggest new super powers for the character.
“There would be the cultural strengths,” he said of the character. “The family ties, the knowledge of the land, the rich, rich symbolism of the Cree on James Bay.”
The MP for the area, Charlie Angus, said there's a huge need for role models and heros who First Nations can look up to. Koostachin is a real-life role model who can speak to them, he said.
“This shadow of Shannen, looking down on these youth today, is certainly something that would work within the comic book format,” he said.
The comic book series launches next spring. Details about the character based on Koostachin — including her name — have not been revealed; Lemire says: "DC wants to make a big deal out of it next year when they reveal the costume and the name." How exciting will it be to have a First Nations teenage superhero little girls can dress up as for Halloween? (Without offensive headdresses?) For more, check out the radio interview at the link.