A Graphic Design student’s work is helping tell the story of a local trailblazer — tracing his rise from humble roots in Jamaica to his post as Canada’s first black police chief.
Third-year Red River College student Emily Campbell, currently completing the Graphic Design – Advanced program, is the illustrator of a new children’s book written by former Winnipeg police chief Devon Clunis and his wife, Pearlene.
Campbell got involved with the project via a request to RRC from Clunis himself, who wanted to team with a local student-artist on the illustrations for his semi-autobiographical tale.
The Little Boy from Jamaica: A Canadian History Story explores Clunis’ early days, during which he grew up without electricity and running water before moving to Winnipeg’s North End with his family at age 11.
Campbell, 22, says the book was already written by the time she signed on, allowing her to work from a comprehensive outline. And though she’s never been to Jamaica, she said the Clunises were able to provide photographic inspiration for her ink and watercolour illustrations.
“They only had one photo from his childhood, when he was very, very young,” she says. “That’s what I based his character on. And then when he’s older, I obviously based it off what he looks like today.”
Though Campbell was originally pursuing a career in music, she turned to Graphic Design as a means of channeling her artistic tendencies and lifelong love of drawing. She says she couldn’t have asked for more perfect clients during her first gig as an illustrator.
“It was fantastic,” she says of the experience. “The Clunises are absolutely wonderful — they were very professional and kind, and it was great working with them.”
For his part, Clunis seems equally happy with the final results, telling Global News that “each page is a piece of artwork.” Of the book itself, he says he hopes to inspire others to nurture the potential in every child.
“I would say it’s all of our story,” he told CBC’s Up to Speed earlier this month.
“It’s told from the perspective of a little boy from Jamaica who was able to achieve great things. But I think it really wants to tell the story of the potential that is inherent in every child in every community when the community rallies around a child.”
The book’s official launch takes place this Sat., Jan. 28, at 2pm at McNally Robinson.
Part of the proceeds will go towards supporting educational efforts in Jamaica, and to Winnipeg’s Bear Clan Patrol.