Q&A with Dene Artist and Author Antoine Mountain

Antoine Mountain has received many awards for his art, community activism, and athletic achievement—including the NWT Premier’s Award, the Queen’s Jubilee Commemorative Medal, the Tom Longboat Award—and was recently inducted in the NWT Sport Hall of Fame. Mountain is currently completing a PhD in Indigenous Studies at Trent University in Peterborough, Ontario, but will always call Radelie Koe (Fort Good Hope), Northwest Territories home. From Bear Rock Mountain: The Life and Times of a Dene Residential School Survivor (Touchwood Editions, 2019) is his first book.

A Wholistic Point of View

Indigenous scholars are challenging the academic world from an Indigenous perspective. We’re redesigning the PhD so Indigenous artists can do visuals and stories, and not just written works. A wholistic point of view – much more complete.


Danielle Metcalfe-Chenail: When did you start working on From Bear Rock Mountain?

Antoine Mountain: I started five years ago – in May or June of 2014. I was at a friend of mine’s place in Calgary doing a series of paintings for an art show and somehow there was an image of a young woman that showed up in a painting of the northern lights and I just left it like that. When I woke up the following morning there was news of one of my niece’s daughters that was murdered in Fort Good Hope. So it followed along with the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women’s issue – the urgency of issues like MMIW really pushed me to start.

To read the whole interview, please visit the Hamilton Review of Books page

Good Night, Fort Bend: Alis the Aviator YouTube Storytime!

I was so pleased to record this story time for my son’s school district! Check out all the other terrific stories – in English AND Spanish – and share the love of books and stories with the kiddos in your life.

Alis the Aviator in Austin

Thanks so much to BookPeople in Austin, TX for the warm welcome!

Alis Goes to Alberta!

Audrey’s book store hosted the official Canadian launch!
Story time fun at the Alberta Aviation Museum

Shortlisted for Houston Readers’ Choice Award!

I was so excited to be shortlisted for this inaugural award offered by the Houston Public Library Foundation.

The city has been my literal (and literary) home for the past four years and I’ve been involved in everything from the local chapter of the SCBWI, RWA, Inprint, Brazos Bookstore, Blue Willow Bookstore, Houston Writers’ Guild, Houston Writers’ House and Writespace. While it’s a massive city that can be hard to navigate, I’ve managed to find amazing author friends, critique partners, and opportunities to grow and learn.

Libraries have been central to this. They are so important to communities – for literacy, yes, but also as a connector and place to gather – and I was thrilled to attend this fundraising gala to support Houston’s libraries.

Of course, the opportunity to hang out with local authors and bookish folks was a big draw too!

Good luck to all the finalists!

“Sure to inspire the next generation of aviators”: Reader Review of Alis the Aviator

Thanks to Storytime with Stephanie for this thoughtful review!

Oh the alphabet book…so, so many on the market so how does an author, illustrator or publisher set theirs apart from the crowd? Well first you tap the incomparable Kalpna Patel (aka @ghostfaceknitter) as your illustrator and then you choose a somewhat uncommon subject, throw in a little history lesson and you have a unique alphabet book sure to inspire the next generation of aviators. Danielle Metcalfe-Chenail choose real life pilot Dr. Alis Kennedy as her inspiration for Alis the Aviator an alphabet book full of flying machines, 26 to be exact. While this book is very interesting and will certainly appeal to those young fans of flying machines and adventure but it’s the illustrations that take it to the next level.

The incredibly talented Kalpna Patel creates the most gorgeous vignettes all made from cut paper. The detail in this book is out of this world. Each and every detail in the illustrations is intentional and precise. It’s vivid and playful and so engaging. If you want to see more of her work, you may already be familiar if you ever peak in the windows at Type Books and Type Book Junction in Toronto. Her cut paper designs grace the windows of these lovely independent bookstores and she also organizes the craftapalooza City of Craft.

Now back to the story itself, Danielle Metcalfe-Chenail gives us a lovely flowing rhyming adventure featuring different historical means of flying. This book is lovely for a read aloud or to curl up and learn more about flight. It’s the historical information and photographs of Dr. Alis Kennedy at the back that will extend the life of this book beyond the early years. Danielle Metcalfe-Chenail and designer Kelly Hill’s inspiration to include not only information about Alis, who not only a pilot but a veteran of the Canadian Navy Reserve and a humanitarian, but also information about all the modes of flight found in the book. Such an important choice to ensure this book weaves its way into readers hearts for years.

Teachers love Alis the Aviator!

It has been so heartening to hear from readers of all backgrounds. I love that teachers all over the place are using Alis the Aviator to connect their classes with aviation, history, and women’s stories!

This review just came to me from a kindergarten teacher and I couldn’t be more thrilled.

My kids love pointing out airplanes and helicopters when they see them in the sky – there’s something so magical about human flight! That’s one of the reasons Danielle Metcalfe-Chenail’s Alis the Aviator makes for such an engaging ABC book. Built around the aviation theme, this book offers kids (and parents!) a glimpse into the history of aviation in Canada.

Amazingly, there’s a different aircraft for every letter, prompting lots of potential discussion around the different types of planes and their functions. Kalpna Patel’s cut paper illustrations beautifully render the aircraft-along with landscapes around Canada-in a way that captures the child-like wonder inspired by flight; they are at once magical and accessible, pulling kids into the book and inspiring questions about the different crafts.

If that weren’t already enough, the book includes a biography of Alis Kennedy, one of the first Indigenous commercial pilots in Canada (after whom the book is titled) and a glossary that gives additional information about each of the aircraft mentioned in the book. So much fun packed in one little alphabet book! 

Special deal on Alis the Aviator through CAHS!

If you’re looking to buy a copy of Alis the Aviator and support a terrific aviation history organization at the same time, I encourage you to order through the Canadian Aviation Historical Society!

When I started researching my first book – For the Love of Flying – back in 2007, it was the CAHS that helped me track down the best resources and connections. After becoming a member and volunteer, I moved into the role of president (the first woman to hold that position in the organization’s 50-year history!). I appreciate their commitment to preserving and celebrating Canadian stories for future generations, and I’m so glad I got to partner up with them on this.

Click here for more information on ordering your copies!

Orders need to be in by September 15, 2019!

Hot Houston Fun at the 1940 Air Terminal Museum

It was a scorching summer day, but with music, ice cream, and lots of planes, we had a blast sharing Alis the Aviator with more folks in Houston!

More great photos and coverage of the day by Mark Reyes at Houston Press!

Mile High Fun with Alis the Aviator!

What a blast this weekend in Denver, Colorado! Thank you so much to the folks at Second Star to the Right bookstore, who invited me in to do story time on Saturday. I got to meet some adorable future aviators, eat these delicious cookies, and talk about books and writing with new friends.

And, of course, I got to spend lots of time with good writing pal, Laura Mitzner, who is creating smart and relatable YA with psychological twists. It was so neat to be working on our manuscripts-in-process in the Garden of the Gods and the Botanical Gardens.

I feel like great things are growing in Denver and can’t wait to get back soon for another visit!

© 2011 Danielle Metcalfe-Chenail. All Rights Reserved.