DC Comics Adds a Native American Teen Girl Superhero Based on Activist Shannen Koostachin
Meet the newest member of the Justice League United! She doesn’t have a name yet, but creator Jeff Lemire stated that he was inspired by one particularly extraordinary young woman:
Shannen Koostachin was a young Cree teenager from Attawapiskat, an isolated community in Northern Ontario, near James Bay. Before her untimely death at age fifteen, she won national recognition for her campaign to raise awareness about the right to quality education for Aboriginal children.
The community had waited a decade for the construction of a new school when, in 2007, Ottawa announced that it wouldn’t go ahead with the plan. Shannen and her grade eight classmates hit the computer, organizing young activists on Facebook and YouTube. She travelled to Ottawa, speaking at rallies about the appalling condition of schools on reserves. “It’s hard to feel pride when our classrooms are cold, when mice run over our lunches,” she said. “It’s hard to feel you can have the chance to grow up to be somebody important when you don’t have proper resources, like a library.”
She won the support of thousands of young Canadians and labour organizations. Her effort was called the biggest youth-led children’s rights campaign in Canadian history. In 2009, Shannen was nominated for the International Children’s Peace Prize, awarded by Nobel prize winners.