New Tłı̨chǫ colouring book draws on culture

Original design by Paige Drybones. (Courtesy of Karen Gelderman)

Inspired by the matriarchs, a new colouring book gives life to Tłı̨chǫ culture by design.

It’s called Unity and it displays 25 unique mandalas, hand drawn by 25 students from Chief Jimmy Bruneau School in Behchokǫ̀.

Paige Dry bones is a 24-year-old mother and she used her mandala to celebrate the traditional seamstresses and beaders of her community, especially her mother whom she attributes her floral designs too.

Her image depicts several flowers circling around a radiating sun-like flower.

“It’s not as great as my mom’s but it’s still pretty nice, “she says.

Without art class, Drybones said she would never have known of her artistic talents.

“I didn’t know I could gain a skill from practicing or trying new things in art class,” she admits.

She remembers drawing to be a great stress reliever.

“I always looked forward to doing art because we’re learning all these new things all the time.”

Drybones says there wasn’t much to do in her small community and that she and many of her peers leaned on programs like these to fill the gaps.

It took former art teacher Karen Gelderman roughly five years to gather all the mandalas and after taking a job with the Tłı̨chǫ Government her dream of putting together this book soon became a reality.

“It’s a given that academics are important, but sometimes arts programs get cut,” she says.

“It’s left up to the classroom teachers, so you have no specialists, nobody.”

Through this project, Gelderman stresses the importance of having arts-driven programs in schools.

All proceeds of the Unity colouring book are going to promote arts and culture programming for schools in the Tłı̨chǫ region.

About the Author

Mariah Caruso
Mariah Caruso is a digital journalist, originally from Toronto, Canada. She graduated from the University of Toronto with a Hons. Bachelor of Arts and completed her Journalism post-grad at Sheridan College. She has an insatiable appetite for life, storytelling, connecting to the people, and getting to the heart of the issue. On her spare time, you can find her at your local coffee shop writing songs, poetry and prose or at the gym out-lifting men. If you have a story idea, feel free to send her an email at or call 867-766-2552 Ext 108