Mi’kmaq artist Alan Syliboy publishes book, The Thundermaker

Artist Alan Syliboy wrote and illustrated children's book, The Thundermaker/Photo by Stephen Brake

Mi’kmaq multimedia artist Alan Syliboy can now add published author to his list of many talents.

Syliboy, from the Millbrook First Nation in Nova Scotia, has written and illustrated his first book called “The Thundermaker” based on the Mi’kmaq legend, The Stone Canoe.

“I’ve always told stories but to put it in a structured format where it was a book was something different,” Syliboy explained.

A launch of the children’s book is being held Monday evening at the Truro campus of the Nova Scotia Community College. The book is published by Nimbus.

“The Thundermaker” is a coming-of-age story about Little Thunder who is encouraged by his elderly parents to get married. The story follows Little Thunder as he takes over the duties of his father, Big Thunder, to become the Thundermaker.

Syliboy’s idea for the book began after he provided illustrations for the book, “The Stone Canoe: Two Lost Mi’kmaq Tales” by Elizabeth Paul which was published in 2007 by Gaspereau Press.

The story of “The Thundermaker” first began as a series of paintings that became an art exhibit. The exhibit toured various libraries throughout Nova Scotia in 2014.

Alan Syliboy's The Thundermaker exhibit is on display at the Truro Campus of the Nova Scotia Community College/Photo by Stephen Brake
Alan Syliboy’s The Thundermaker exhibit is on display at the Truro Campus of the Nova Scotia Community College/Photo by Stephen Brake

Syliboy then worked with students studying animation at NSCC to create a video about Little Thunder. The video was shown during the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver and was recently included in the imagineNATIVE film festival in Toronto.

The exhibit and video are currently on display at the library on the NSCC Truro Campus.

Syliboy’s children’s book is the latest in the Mi’kmaq artist’s Thundermaker series.

“I’m really happy about this,” Syliboy said. “It’s been a long process.”

Syliboy said he wrote his story in the Mi’kmaq tradition to use storytelling as a teaching tool.

“I wanted to keep that as a way to stay in the tradition of storytelling and that all stories have a lesson,” he said.

The book launch of “The Thundermaker” gets underway at 7 p.m. at McCarthy Hall on the NSCC Truro Campus on Arthur Street.


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About Maureen Googoo 131 Articles
Maureen Googoo is an award-winning journalist from Indian Brook First Nation (Sipekne'katik) in Nova Scotia. She has worked in news for nearly 30 years for media outlets such as CBC Radio, the Chronicle-Herald and the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network. Maureen has an arts degree in political science from Saint Mary's University, a post-graduate degree in journalism from Ryerson University and a Masters degree in journalism from Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.