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DC Comics Introduces Cree Superhero

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Equinox; Image: DC Comics
New Justice League United Cree superhero, Equinox; Image: DC Comics

DC Comics recently introduced a new superhero: a 16-year-old Cree girl from Moose Factory, Ontario, who goes by the name Equinox.

The character will be part of a five-issue series featuring Justice League Canada, a team of superheroes based in Northern Ontario.

Equinox was created by Jeff Lemire, a comic book artist and writer. Lemire grew up in a small farming town in Ontario and now lives in Toronto. He has written stories for other DC Comics characters, including Green Arrow and Superboy.

When Lemire was offered the chance to write for the Justice League of America characters – the top DC superheroes – he suggested the story be set in Canada.

He chose Northern Ontario for the location because he thought a rural setting would make the story more distinctly Canadian. He also thought it would be interesting to see superheroes somewhere other than big cities.

Lemire had visited Northern Ontario when he was a child, and he was interested in the First Nations culture and stories he learned about there. He decided to create a superhero who is Cree and female because he wanted to present a perspective and personality that are different from other superheroes, who are mostly white and male.

To research his stories, Lemire made several trips to Moose Factory and Moosonee, two small towns in Northern Ontario.

The towns are located on the Moose River near James Bay, at the southern tip of Hudson Bay. There are no roads leading to the communities. They can be reached only by train or plane.

Lemire spent time talking to local people – especially students – to get ideas and feedback from them. He even organized a contest in which students could suggest super powers for the new character.

Equinox, whose real name is Miiyahbin, has powers that come from the Earth and change with the seasons.

Lemire says Equinox was inspired in part by Shannen Koostachin, a teenager from Attawapiskat First Nation which is also near James Bay. Shannen led a campaign to have a proper school built in her community. She died in a car accident in 2010 at the age of 15, but a new school, named after her, is set to open in September.

The art for the Equinox stories is by Mike McKone, who has also illustrated many comics for DC and Marvel.

Related Sites
Cree Indian Fact Sheet

Cree Characters and Legends

More information about Shannen Koostachin and her campaign

Discussion/Writing Prompt
Imagine and design a new comic book character that lives in your community. What would they look like? How would they act? What superpowers would they possess?

Reading Prompt
Lemire chose to create a Cree, female superhero because he wants different people to be able to identity with this superhero. He believes that most superheroes are white and male.

What other populations are not represented by comic books? What other points of view are missing in this genre?

Junior
Identify the point of view presented in texts, ask questions to identify missing or possible alternative points of view, and suggest some possible alternative perspectives (OME, Reading, 1.9)

Intermediate
Identify the point of view presented in texts, including increasingly complex or difficult texts; give evidence of any biases they may contain; and suggest other possible perspectives (OME, Reading, 1.9)

Language Feature: Verb tense
Verbs (action words) are written in different tenses to show when they happened. This article contains verbs in the past, present and future tenses. Identify these three different types of verbs using different colours.