Book teaching children how to cope with stress and anxiety now available in Cree, Anishinaabe

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A book that teaches young children to deal with issues like stress and anxiety is now available in two Indigenous languages, after the author said she was inspired by translating her work into Cree and in Anishinaabe.

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“I feel like a settler on this land, I am called to work for reconciliation,” said Karla Dueck Thiessen, teacher and author from Winnipeg.

Dueck Thiessen, who teaches at Queenston School in Winnipeg, has had four editions of his book ‘ It starts with a breath ‘published since 2019. The book provides specific breathing and mindfulness advice for young children and students to help them cope with issues such as stress, anxiety and feeling overwhelmed .

Dueck Thiessen said that upon reading the 2015 Truth and Reconciliation Commission report and the report’s Calls to Action, she recently found inspiration to translate her book into the Cree and Anishinaabe languages.

“I was just reading the calls to action, and one of them is to ‘build students’ capacity for cross-cultural understanding, empathy and mutual respect,’ so it occurred to me. mind that the book could be a point of connection, ”said Dueck Thiessen. .

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After deciding that she wanted the book translated, Dueck Thiessen worked with Indigenous educators in Winnipeg, Gloria Barker and Lorraine George, to translate the book into Cree and Anishinaabe.

Through a combination of grants and fundraising, she said the English version of the book is now available at libraries and bookstores across the city, but that they are now working to get the Indigenous language versions. books in every school in Winnipeg, as well as agencies and charities across the province that work with Indigenous children.

“We did it because we really wanted to honor and help spread Indigenous languages,” said Dueck Thiessen. “There just aren’t a lot of resources for teachers in these languages, and teachers are struggling to find those kinds of resources, so we think it will be a great tool for them.

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“And when the kids see their own language in these books, I hope they really connect with it.”

And while Dueck Thiessen hopes to spread Indigenous languages ​​through her work, she said the book is also important because she doesn’t see enough books or resources that teach children to deal with stress and stress issues. anxiety.

“We teach workers in many industries and professional athletes how to breathe properly to relax, but often we don’t teach that to young people, and I think it has to be an integral part of the school curriculum,” she said. .

“Being in a quiet space and ready to learn in any situation is the basis of learning.”

She added that children as young as three can use the techniques from the book and work on them with friends and family members.

If young children don’t learn strategies for dealing with issues related to stress and anxiety, Dueck Thiessen said it can lead to bigger and more serious problems down the road.

“When we push our feelings away, it leads to anxiety and depression,” she said. “That’s why I think it’s such an important resource.”

– Dave Baxter is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter working for the Winnipeg Sun. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.

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