New children’s book from Manitoba First Nations advocate inspires youth to embrace their talents

We Need Everyone is a book by Michael Redhead Champagne, which he calls his "love letter to children of the world. Joanne Roberts has the story.

A new book by a First Nations advocate and author has hit the shelves.

Michael Redhead Champagne calls “We Need Everyone” a “love letter to children of the world.”

“(It’s) asking them to look within themselves to find and share their gifts with the world, and also a celebration of the many different gifts that we see in our community,” Champagne said.

“It’s my very first children’s book and I’m so excited to share it with the world.”

Champagne celebrated his newest work with two book launches Saturday – one at 11:30 a.m. and another at 2 p.m. – at the Manitoba Museum. The events were hosted by Anishinaabe and Mohawk media personality Kim Wheeler.

Michael Redhead Champagne says he’s excited to share his new book, which celebrates children and encourages them to find their talents. (Joanne Roberts, CityNews)

Hundreds of Winnipeggers, including children and families, were in attendance.

“I think that all of us have heard kids and young people say the words, ‘I’m bored,’ before,” said Champagne. “And this book, it equips all of us who hear children say those things with the necessary steps that we need to take to remind that person of how gifted they are, and encourage them on the next stage of their developmental journey so that they can practise and share their gift.”

The book launches were celebratory events, with balloons, photo booths and activities.

“I want folks to be able to feel the energy and the spirit and the love that was put into the building of this book,” Champagne said.

There was also a book-signing session – with a twist.

“I’ll also be ‘cat-pawwing’ the books with a stamp that was made by a company called Maple Leaf Rubber Stamp with my cat Sushi’s paw,” the author said. “He’s on the cover of the book and now he gets to be part of the signature process. So I’m pumped to be able to share my signature and Sushi’s pawprint with the world.”

Champagne says the entire publishing process was more convoluted than he ever expected, including meeting and working with illustrator Tiff Bartel, editors, and marketers.

“There’s a lot of drafts back and forth to make sure that the language is appropriate, and so it was a much larger process than I thought it was going to be,” Champagne said. “But a few years later, here we are.”

“We Need Everyone” is available at McNally Robinson Booksellers.

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