Strong Nations is one of the largest online aboriginal bookstores in North America.
The store was founded by Nanaimo residents Terri Mack and Ken Mack five years ago.
“We started our company five years ago in the basement of our house,” said Terri Mack, CEO of Strong Nations. “And the first two years we were only an online indigenous book store and then, by year three, I really thought it would be great to create a series of books, so we created our first series of 40 titles.”
The company started with online book sales and then moved into a bricks-and-mortar store in Nanaimo three years ago. The store is located at 1970 Diesel Way, just off of Bowen Road.
Strong Nations is now also a publishing company, creating and publishing authentic and accurate First Nations stories.
One of Mack’s main goals is to bring First Nations content into the lives of all Canadians, to help build a stronger country and increase awareness about First Nations culture.
The Strong Readers series was the first Mack and her team created.
Strong Nations partnered with Pearson Canada, a learning company that distributes material to educators, professionals and students, to bring the books to schools.
In April, Strong Nations created the Strong Stories series.
The series contains authentic content written and illustrated by authors about three territories: the Coast Salish, Kanyen’kehà:ka and the Tlingit territories.
“We’re pretty proud of these books,” said Mack.
Ensuring authenticity in books is important to Mack. She makes sure things such as illustrations or photographs included in books truly represent the First Nations culture it is being tied to in captions or in the theme of the book.
To the average reader, it’s hard to know if a book is authentic or not. To help people, Mack has created a listing on the Strong Nations’ website called ‘aboriginal awareness’ so people can learn factual information about First Nations in Canada.
“I want people to bump into this category, actually there are 47 different titles in here that people can pick and choose from that are going to increase their understanding and capacity of what has happened in our country,” she said.
She also works not only as an author for Strong Nations, but is also a content editor ensuring accurate information.
“We don’t have enough indigenous publishers in Canada to really fill that need right now so there’s lots of indigenous authors that are being published, but they’re not necessarily being published with an indigenous content editor at the helm,” said Mack.
Mack does the content editing and has another editor who does copy editing at Strong Nations.
“I go through and I am looking at the content and making sure that everything is accurate and what I know in the experience of some of our indigenous authors is that if you have somebody who doesn’t understand cultural nuances that might be woven through a piece of text, they might get eliminated through the editing process, not that it is being done intentionally. It just happens because the understanding isn’t there.”
Mack said content editors need to have an awareness about culture. If Mack runs across something she questions, she just asks the author to explain.
For more information, go to www.strongnations.com.