Rick Langlais has been doing motivational speaking for young people in Saskatchewan’s north for years and has now turned his talents towards developing colouring books dealing with pretty heavy issues.
One day the founder and executive director for the Hands On Outreach and Development Centre in Saskatoon, decided to talk about bully.
From that discussion, it gave him the idea of writing a colouring book about bullying.
“We found they were really struggling in the communities… it wasn’t just bullying it was suicide,” he said. “It was just horrific how our communities were being devastated by suicide and along with that racism was part of the issues.
“We thought about is there some way we an introduce the topic on a lighter basis.”
Along with Metis illustrator Glen Strong, they developed three colouring books for grades one to three to tackle difficult subjects and use relatable characters including a Kokum.
The first book dealt with bullying, the second racism and this recent one, suicide.
“It was an easy decision but a hard topic to come up with and it was the one book we struggled with the longest,” he said. “We spent three months just discussing the different ways we can do it gently enough for a grade one, two, three to understand but still have enough meat and potatoes to the subject that it was warrant as a conversation piece or conversation started.”
Langlais said he raised money through donations to put out the books. He also consulted with Elders and his illustrator Glen Strong.
They donated 1,250 of the suicide colouring books to the Prince Albert Grand Council to use in 27 schools.
The Prince Albert Grand Council plans to incorporate Elders to work with the kids while they use the colouring books in class.
Tina Pelletier, communications specialist with the Prince Albert Grand Council says they appreciate the donation and will be making sure elders and teachers gently guide the subject of suicide with the kids in school by using the colouring books.
“It’s a cultural appropriate tool by bringing together the elder and youth and it’s going to be in that space that will stimulate discussion on this serious topic,” said Pelletier.
Langlais adds him and Strong have plans to continue the colouring book series with the same relatable characters to teach more lessons, but next time about positive characteristics like integrity, respect and humility.