A connection through Comics

Mazinbiige, an Anishinabe word meaning beautiful images and writing, captures the essence of a new collection at Elizabeth Dafoe Library.

The Mazinbiige Indigenous Graphic Novel Collection—home to roughly 200 titles—provides an engaging way to explore and discuss critical issues in Canada. The genre combines sequential art with words, its origins dating back some 50,000 years to the pictographic writings of Indigenous peoples on rock faces, in the sand or carved in birch bark.

The recently acquired collection compliments native studies assistant Prof. Niigaanwewidam James Sinclair’s Indigenous graphic novel course, which challenges students to analyze these important works that are gaining legitimacy in the literary world—and also create their own.

The themes in the collection, believed to be among the first of its kind at a Canadian university, encourage discussion about issues like suicide, HIV/AIDS and residential schools. Within the titles, acquired by Indigenous services librarian Camille Callison, you’ll find honest and respectful portrayals of Indigenous peoples as well as evidence of stereotypes. Through graphic novels, Indigenous authors are gaining control over their stories and images. And more and more, graphic novels are becoming a medium to connect with young people and a vehicle for reconciliation and healing.