An illustrated cat with sweetgrass in its mouth by Emily Johnson, NBCCD Wabanaki Visual Arts grad. It is part of the cover design of Mitzy's First Time Picking Sweetgrass.

New partnership empowers Wabanaki Visual Arts students to publish books

October 4, 2023

NBCCD’s new partnership with Monster House Publishing allows Wabanaki Visual Arts (WVA) students to have their own books published.

WVA Studio Coordinator Judie Acquin said that the partnership, which was formed in March 2023, is an opportunity for culturally relevant children’s books to be written and illustrated by Indigenous artists.

“It is a way for Wabanaki teachings to be shared and distributed to schools, homes, and communities.”

Writing and illustrating a book is already a part of the WVA Oral Tradition and Art course, but this partnership allows students to take their finished piece and publish it, with guidance and final edits provided by the publishing team at Monster House Publishing.

Through this partnership, students learn about contracts and compensation for their original ideas—a crucial skillset for craftspeople and designers—with multiple income streams. Students also network with publishers and community members to ensure that they are sharing culturally appropriate content.

Emily Johnson, a Wabanaki Visual Arts alumna (2023), is having her first book published through the program. It’s called Mitzy’s First Time Picking Sweetgrass. The illustrated book talks about the steps taken when picking sweet grass and passing it on to the next generation. The story takes place at New River Beach in New Brunswick.

Johnson said she always wanted to publish a kid’s book since she was young and having the opportunity through the Wabanaki Visual Arts program was exciting.

“I look forward to having my book out in the world!”

Acquin said she’s excited for the release of the book and Johnson’s accomplishment.

“She has worked very hard to complete her story and illustrations with a thoughtful approach.”

Monster House Publishing Publisher Paul Farlow-McAllister said he is “over the moon about the partnership.”

“We do our very best to provide a space for these stories to be told, and when we were approached with the idea, it shows that we must be doing something right. It is an honour to be a part of this spectacular and important program.”

“Monster House Publishing focuses on presenting local stories by local authors to a national and international audience. A story located in New Brunswick with traditional Indigenous values is as local as you can get. By adding the book to our catalogue, it helps further our aim to encourage culturally sensitive exchange, support truth and reconciliation, and encourage children to be serious and kind.”

The book will be launched in Fredericton at a launch event in early December. In January, the book will be available nationally for purchase wherever books are sold for $14.95 CAD.

Learn MoreWabanaki Visual Arts

Wabanaki Visual Arts (WVA) is a two-year diploma offered at the New Brunswick College of Craft & Design ( and the only program of its kind in Canada. WVA provides skill development in the traditional and contemporary crafts of the Mi’kmaq, Wolastoqey, and Passamaquoddy Peoples. Students learn the Indigenous history of the Wabanaki homeland and work one-on-one with Indigenous artists and knowledge carriers, gaining hands-on experience in a project-based curriculum with an entrepreneurial focus. WVA builds pride, confidence, and offers students a safe community to explore their Indigenous identity and arts.