Our Ever Awesome NWT Brushing Song Bloggy Blog by Richard Van Camp 

"Our Ever Awesome NWT Brushing Song" Bloggy Blog by Richard Van Camp 

Our Ever Awesome NWT Brushing Song

Had anyone ever told me when I was running laps at JBT in grades 4,5, and 6 back in the 70’s in Fort Smith, NWT, that I’d hold my 25th book in that same gymnasium at the tender age of 48 as a father, a husband, a son and a brother and had someone told me that my 25th book would be illustrated by a Hay River artist named Neiva Mateus and that our book would be translated into all 11 of our official languages in the NWT, I would not have believed them, but there I was on March 10th, in 2020 in the gymnasium at JBT Elementary with Fort Smith families holding the English edition of Our Ever Awesome NWT Brushing Song, illustrated by Neiva Mateus and singing it and holding it and loving it with my friends from the NWT Literacy Council and Fort Smith families. Oh we had fun. 

I enjoyed writing this book because, as a dad, getting our son Edzazii to brush his teeth has become so important for all of us. I didn’t know until I started researching this project that baby teeth are placeholders for adult teeth and we want to keep all of our teeth at every stage of our life for as long as possible. I learned that children usually start to lose their baby teeth between the ages of 6-12. I did not know that baby teeth help you with pronunciation, and I did not know that your oral health is part of your overall health. What this means is your doctor and dental hygienist can often spot symptoms of a larger issue in your mouth. 

Not all communities have access to a permanent dentist or dental team. Not every community has access to fluoride in their water. But what all families can do is get their kids brushing for two minutes twice a day and flossing.  When you brush and floss, you are the boss of your own oral health.  

We are all doing our best as parents. I know this. What we’ve done for our son who is about to turn 6 in two months is a) we found Edzazii an egg timer so he can see what 2 minutes looks like b) we got him an electric toothbrush. This was a gamechanger for all of us because he loves the vibrations, and 3) we’ll all start brushing at the same time as Mommy, Daddy and Edzazii and the winner is whoever takes the longest. 

I was so grateful to travel to Fort Smith, Hay River and Yellowknife and it was a joy to speak not only at the Mary Kaeser Library and do a creative writing workshop for students, but it was a joy to also speak at the Centennial Library in Hay River and at the Chief Sunrise Education Centre.  

We gave out hundreds of toothbrushes, flossing kits, tubes of toothpaste and books. We also hosted a family event at the Hay River Soaring Eagle Friendship Centre that was well attended. 

Sadly, we did have to cancel our Yellowknife book launch at the Snow Castle for safety reasons via the Corona Virus, but we will be back to do this properly when the time is right. My northern heart is full. I am so proud to have worked with 11 different translators and we will be launching an animatic promoting oral health this June or July in all 11 of our official languages. 

I know that the book is being translated into French and if you’re wondering what our 11 official languages are in the NWT, besides French and English, they are Nēhiyawēwin (Cree), Dëne Sųłıné Yatıé (Chipewyan), Gwich’in or Dinjii Zhu’ Ginjik, Inuinnaqtun, Inuktitut or ᐃᓄᒃᑎᑐᑦ, Inuvialuktun, Sahtúot’ı̨nę Yatı̨́ (North Slavey), Dene Zhatıé (South Slavey) and Tłı̨chǫ Yatıì—our language! 

So mahsi cho, everyone.  Thank you for reading this and happy brushing! 


Richard Van Camp 

Tłı̨chǫ Dene from Fort Smith, NWT


Submitted by Judith Drinnan (not verified) on Fri, 03/27/2020 - 12:45


Well done on making teeth brushing a fun story.
Just to let people know that the book is not available in the bookstore.
We will refer customers to the Literacy Council.. Are there other places they can find the book.?
You must have done a good job on teeth brushing with that beautiful smile!
Thanks my friend.


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