When DC Comics' Justice League of America relaunches in April as Justice League Canada, it will introduce a young Cree superheroine inspired in part by Shannen Koostachin, a teenage activist who lobbied the federal government for a new school in Attawapiskat First Nation, on the James Bay Coast. Koostachin died in a car accident in 2010 at the age of 15.
“I think if I can capture some of that heart and some of that essence in this character," writer Jeff Lemire told CBC News. "Perhaps she'll almost be a guiding spirit in the creation of this character."
Announced in August, the series will find the Justice League moving to Canada in the wake of "Trinity War." Lemire had previously revealed the team lineup would include Adam Strange, reintroduced as a Canadian, as well as a Canadian teenager, but this interview provides more details.
For instance, we now know that Hawkman and Green Arrow -- currently part of the Justice League of America roster -- will remain, and that the initial storyline involves the infiltration of "a secret alien bunker" near James Bay. That's where the new superheroine enters the picture, as two local teenagers sneak into the bunker once the Justice League leaves, and it's learned one of them is part of a legacy of Cree heroes.
Lemire, who lives in Toronto, explained it was important to him to include a First Nations character in the book.
"I knew if I was moving the team here, I wanted to really reflect the country and not just have, you know, stereotypes and cliches of what people think of Canada," he said. "I think to do that you have to reflect specific parts of the country, and so I chose a very distinct landscape, and the James Bay area is very isolated, and visually it gives us a lot to work with. I think our First Nations are an aspect of our identity that are often overlooked. If this can shine more light on their culture and their way of life, I think it's a great opportunity."
Although Lemire said the character's powers will reflect her Cree culture, he remained tight-lipped about her name.The writer will travel in two weeks to Moosonee and Moose Factory in northern Ontario to talk to students; he'll hold a contest in which they'll suggest the character's abilities.