Canadian comic by Ad Astra Comix chronicals the slaughter of Inuit sled dogs… by the Mounted Police!

A new, kid-friendly comic by Toronto publishers Ad Astra Comix illustrates the tragedy of Inuit sled dogs that were killed by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. The script was written and edited by Hugh Goldring and the comic was storyboarded and illustrated by Nicole Burton and tells the sad story of the slaughter in beautiful imagery and words. The artists are currently working to have the crowdfunded comic incorporated as part of the Canadian school curriculum as a way to bring this history to a new generation.

Design Federation caught up with Canadian storyteller, poet and, now, comic writer, Hugh Goldring, to discuss this, his latest project, and maybe glean some wisdom on indigenous storytelling that may inspire local artists and writers here in Oz.

What was the inspiration for this project?

Originally conceived as part of a larger series of unheard Canadian histories, ‘Dogs’ took on a life of its own. I had worked as a researcher for the Qikiqtani Truth Commission and was familiar with the story of the dog slaughter. Originally discussed as a satire, we decided it deserved to stand on its own.

Why was it important for you to make this project happen?

The story of the dog slaughter throughout the north is a traumatic one, not only for the Inuit but for all feeling people. The events of the slaughter caused enormous harm to Inuit communities. In spite of this, very few people in southern Canada know the story. We wanted to help make this history accessible to Canadians who might never otherwise encounter it.


Did the vision for the project change during the process?

The comic was originally going to have a somewhat snarky tone but in telling the story, we realized that the facts were stark enough and that attempting to be satirical took away from that seriousness. So we changed it to let the events of the story stand on their own. The text on the final panel was removed to allow the reader to confront the image on their own terms.

Was this a learning curve for you as artists?

Considering that this was our first project together, things went remarkably smoothly. The work proceeded quickly and the end product was everything we could have hoped for. There were a few moments of tension during the creative process. As a historian, I would sometimes take issue with minor details in Nicole’s drawings, forcing Nicole to redo entire panels! Needless to say, we have learned to consult carefully with each other during the scripting stage so that Nicole doesn’t end up drawing the whole thing twice.

What are your creative backgrounds?

I have written poetry, short stories and even an embarrassingly adolescent teen novel when I was 19. Nicole has been drawing for herself since she was a child and has always known she wanted to work as an artist. Both Hugh and Nicole have applied their creative energy to their work as activists since they were teenagers – making posters, writing fundraising appeals and generally doing their best to inspire the people they have organized with.


What has the reception to the project been?

The reception to ‘Dogs’ has been universally positive. We were a little worried how the Inuit community would respond, since the project was undertaken without direct consultation – a mistake we won’t repeat. But the response has been phenomenal! People really connect to the project, which expresses the trauma of the dog slaughter in relatable, human terms. We are very proud of our work and think that for our first joint project, the response has been more than we ever could have hoped for.


Why should this project be in schools in Canada?

Although curricula are beginning to recognize the importance of indigenous narratives, they often place too much emphasis on the positive. Colonialism has been traumatic for most indigenous nations and including materials in the classroom that help students to understand that trauma is absolutely essential to building a Canada where people understand where they come from, as well as where they are going. ‘Dogs’ is short enough to be put on a poster but contains the essential facts necessary to help students learn about and understand the dog slaughter and its impact.


How can people help?

People can help in all kinds of ways! The most immediate thing that anyone can do is order a copy of the posters for themselves by e-mailing us at The posters retail for $20CAD plus shipping, so be sure to include an address.

Most importantly, everyone can head over to the Qikiqtani Truth Commission’s website and learn more about the experiences of the Inuit.

dogs_canadian_comic poster_feet

18.08.15. filed under Blogs, Illustration, Interviews. No Comments →

Racebook > Facebook

Let me start this article by saying as a 50+ year old man, I have absolutely no reason to be on social networking, other than to make it uncool for all the young folk, or in a work environment, help create social marketing strategies for corporations.

There is no doubt Facebook is a great tool to help corporations sell products more effectively as it has brilliant data mining algorithms and it helps you target people with greater accuracy.

At its core, Facebook is nothing more than 24/7 advertising platform for a person or a product whereby one can extol the virtues of said person or product.

Also, besides it being a narcissist’s paradise and turning people into a never ending news cycle, it also gives voice to lowest common denominator opinions, with racist, sexist and bigoted fan-pages having a field day like never before.

As soon as a hot topic issue is heard about in the news, it is guaranteed to have its own Facebook page created within minutes, with the ‘lord of the flies’ set salivating over the chance to post their hatred for everyone to see.

So it comes as excellent news that the winner of this year’s “Telstra National Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Art Award” for the “Telstra Work on Paper Award” went to Raymond Zada for his brilliant work titled “Racebook”

“Racebook is a response to racist comments posted in two Facebook groups: ‘Aboriginal Spongebob’ and ‘Giving ya wife a sniff of ya petrol cos ur a top noonga’. The groups had more than 43,000 people liking them. The letters of Racebook are formed from actual comments posted in those two groups.

They give a snapshot of some people’s attitudes toward, and perceptions of, Aboriginal people in Australia. These sites included comments as disturbing as an individual stating he wanted to shoot Aboriginals. At the other extreme was a comment posted by someone who said, “im suprised racism stil exitsts.” [sic]

Racebook represents the artist’s purging of the hateful comments while raising awareness of the attitudes being expressed in social media.”

To see the work, click here.

Article by David Goldberg

11.08.12. filed under Blogs. No Comments →

Shillington gets its Blog on.

Guess who’s the new blog on the block?  ..and it looks pretty sweet too.

09.05.11. filed under Blogs. No Comments →

Tough Titties

Lets face it, boys are much better at showing off than girls. From singing bad sexy songs to having an over-inflated ego about map reading, boys love to talk up their achievements. Thankfully there’s a lot of girls who can do the same. And as far as were concerned, this is a good enough reason to set up a blog that talks about all things female and creative.

Tough Titties is a family of creative, like-minded folk from many different backgrounds with an array of talents who can join forces, mix it up, collaborate, exchange thoughts, change the world…and maybe just show off a bit as well!

06.10.10. filed under Blogs. No Comments →

The 99 Percent

The 99 Percent Banner

The 99 Percent is a great resource for anyone and everyone. We all have ideas so why not do something about it?

03.08.10. filed under Blogs. 1 Comment →

Top 6×6 Design Icons

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The Top 6×6 Blog provides an opportunity for you to post your own top 6 design icons. It’s both interesting and inspiring to see others selections – who, what, where will you pick?

26.07.10. filed under Blogs. No Comments →

Lost At E Minor: Huge HUge HUGE Giveaway!

It’s winter cleaning time over at the Aussie pop culture site, Lost At E Minor, and they have a massive pile of assorted new release CDs to give away to a randomly selected new subscriber to their email newsletter. To enter, just sign up to receive the free Lost At E Minor newsletter. They’ll be selecting a winner at random and dropping them a welcome note (along with a pile of brand spanking new CDs!) Entries close July 15th.

09.07.10. filed under Blogs. 3 Comments →

Designer Sphere – Supporting emerging and independent Australian designers

Designer Sphere is a new initiative that has recently launched that supports emerging and independent Australian designers in building up their business. Designer Sphere is an online wholesale trade fair, and provides designers with an opportunity to wholesale their product and connect with retailers around Australia. Designer Sphere has been established to promote Australian made products and to link retailers with designers, providing designers with an opportunity they may not otherwise have. Designers do not need a website to join, they just need to be an independent designer with products that are made in Australia. Read all about Designer Sphere →

06.07.10. filed under Blogs. 3 Comments →


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