Raise-a-Reader Day 2011

We’re very happy to have been a part of this year’s Raise-a-Reader Day! The wonderful photos below were shot at our animation studio here in Saskatoon. Thank you to everyone for your support of literacy within Saskatoon, Saskatchewan and Canada. Make sure to visit the Postmedia website for helpful tips to encourage literacy! (And for those of you living in Saskatchewan please visit the Saskatchewan Literacy Network website.)

How are you raising a reader?

Photographer: Vanessa Neufeld @Vanessa Neufeld
Fashion Stylist and Dress Designer: Chelsey Gruza @chelseygruza
Accesories: Tonic- A Shop for Women @tonicsaskatoon
Hair: Amanda Dreis @chopchopsalonsk
Make-up: Jennilee Cardinal-Schultz @chopchopsalonsk
Models: Jennilee @jennileecs
Dragon: Wide Open Theatre
Special Thanks to Daniel Cote at Bricker’s Shoes who donated the paper for our paper bag dresses.

The power of the graphic novel can bring turn us all into comic book heroes.

Photographer: Kevin Greggain
Asst to Photographer: Dylan Greggain
Models: Katrina and sons
Katrina’s Hair: Keith Bastian @chopchopsalonsk
Sons’ hair: Sheila Morris @chopchopsalonsk
Make-up: Jennilee Cardinal-Schultz @chopchopsalonsk

Interact with e-books; just like a traditional children’s book, we can fall into the story in our imaginations.

Photographer: Naidu Photography
Adult Model: Bobby Henry from the Saskatchewan Aboriginal Literacy Network
Models’ Hair: Sheila Morris @chopchopsalonsk
Models Make-up: Jennilee Cardinal-Schultz @chopchopsalonsk
Bobby’s outfit: @MintFashionCo

Literacy learning goes online

The Saskatchewan Literacy Network is celebrating Raise-a-Reader Day by embracing digital literacy. Today, the SLN is releasing the photo series Living What We Learn on its newly redesigned website. The photo series will also be shared on Facebook and Twitter to encourage the public to consider different forms of learning for families.

The Living What We Learn photo series reflects the donated time of a dozen local businesses dedicated to promoting family literacy. Three photos showcase forms of families learning together: Through an e-book and website, a graphic novel and a children’s book. The photo series will be shared online with the intention of sparking awareness of an emerging form of literacy – digital literacy.

“As our society moves toward using computers and digital technology in daily life, it is important for families to learn to use technology together. Just as books can be used for parents and children to interact and learn together, a computer game, a website, social media or an e-book can have similar applications,” Lisa Erickson of the SLN said.

Wapos Bay, the Gemini Award-winning children’s show, was the focus of one of the photos. Its website, www.waposbay.com, has interactive games and e-books that encourage families to learn together. Naidu Photography‘s photo of Bobby Henry from the Saskatchewan Aboriginal Literacy Network depicts the way we can interact with e-books – just like a regular children’s book, we can fall into the story in our imaginations. Henry is wearing clothing donated by Mint Fashion Co, another supporter of literacy.

More traditional forms of literacy are depicted in the picture of Jennilee Cardinal-Schultz of Chop Chop Hair Salon. The photographer, Vanessa Neufeld, captured an imaginary scene inspired by a children’s book: The mother and daughter are living what they are learning from the story. The beautiful image is enhanced by a puppet dragon contributed by Wide Open Theatre and dresses designed by Chelsey Gruza.

The third photo depicts a less-recognized medium for reading – the power of the graphic novel. Kevin Greggain captured local producer Katrina German reading a graphic novel within a comic book setting.

All pictures are shared on the SLN’s website (www.sk.literacy.ca) and its Facebook page. People are encouraged to share the pictures on Twitter and Facebook to show their support for literacy and Raise-a-Reader.


Just as technology has changed the face of communicating, it is also changing the way people learn and practise their literacy skills.

Today volunteers, literacy organizations, local businesses and the general public are encouraged to answer the question: “How do you raise a reader?” Through Twitter, the addition of the hashtag #RAR to the end of a tweet will start a conversation about literacy that will span across Canada.

“Twitter is a new way to share ideas and we want to share the Raise-a-Reader campaign with as many people as possible,” Erickson said.

Saskatoon Twitterer @katrinavision notes that “if every person adds the hashtag #RAR to their tweet, we should be able to get a very cool list of the ways that Canadians are interacting and learning with their kids.”

Leaders in social media, such as Darren Sproat (@ DarrenSproat) of Regina, who manages 40,000-plus Twitter followers and the popular blog Then Life Happens (http: //www.then lifehappens.com/), will be tweeting and blogging along with @katrinavision and several hundreds of volunteers across Canada.

Providing newspapers for a donation has long been the pillar of the Raise-a-Reader campaign. The 2011 social media Twitter campaign for Literacy will augment this time-honoured practice by offering volunteers and those interested in supporting literacy one more way to become involved. The social media campaign will promote online donations by sending Twitter followers to the main donation site at www.canada.com.


This special-edition of The StarPhoenix helps raise donations to Raise-a-Reader.

Raise-a-Reader raises money for northern Saskatchewan literacy and education organizations to help children get a good start in reading

Twenty-seven newspapers across Canada participate in Raise-a-Reader, raising $17 million for literacy programs since its launch in 2002.

© Copyright (c) The StarPhoenix

Read more:


Wapos Bay Creators Share their Story

Courtesy Yorkton This Week

Wapos Bay is a popular animated show for children and students at Dr. Brass School had an up close and personal opportunity to learn more about the series they watch on television thanks to the Yorkton Film Festival.

Dennis and Melanie Jackson visited the school Friday to talk to students about the series which has just recently stopped production in Saskatoon.

“We finished 34 episodes,” explained Dennis Jackson co-creator of the series with wife Melanie, adding they have also just completed a 70-minute APTN Movie of the Week based on Wapos Bay and its characters.

Melanie said the longer movie was an ideal way to wrap up the series and bring some closure to the characters of Wapos Bay.

“It gave us a chance to wrap up some lose ends, and go down some different paths for some of the characters,” said Melanie.

The series actually came about based on the success of a pilot Christmas at Wapos Bay, which won the Best of Saskatchewan Award at the YFF back in 2002.

The special episode aired on APTN and opened doors to the series, said Dennis. “We already had a relationship with APTN,” he said.

While they had a foot in the door with the national aboriginal broadcaster, the longevity of Wapos Bay was never exactly clear.

“Every year we didn’t know if it was going to end,” said Dennis.

While no immediate plans are in place for Wapos Bay, Dennis noted “we have ideas and still have all the puppets and all the sets.”

The series may have wrapped up production wise, but Dr. Brass students were still eager to ask many questions of the Jacksons, who were equally eager to field them.

“It’s really fun doing these,” Dennis told Yorkton This Week, adding he particularly likes watching children watch the show, or when they bring out some of the puppets used in the show. “It’s lot of fun seeing the excitement in their eyes.”

“Their eyes get big as plates and they’re saying “I know those characters,” added Melanie. Dennis said they don’t necessarily get story ideas or feedback from younger children, “but they laugh in the right places so that’s good to know.”

Talking to students is also a way to continue in essence what it was that drove the Jacksons to do Wapos Bay.

Melanie told the assembled students they wanted “to provide role models for Aboriginal people on television.”

Wapos Bay was the vehicle to create positive role models, with the first story coming from something Dennis had written in school, a short story on his grandfather.

While school visits are good for the Jacksons they are also good for the students said teacher Julie Parisloff.

“In general media literacy is huge now,” she said. “It’s a huge part of learning.” So to have someone visit such as the Jacksons is a rare opportunity to broaden that learning, said Parisloff. “We’re very lucky to have them come to the school,” she said.

Parisloff added what the students learned from their visitors can be built on by teachers in class later, through concepts such as creative writing, and Aboriginal history.

As for the Jacksons, they are not walking away from animation, as they start production of six episodes of a new series; The Guardians this fall, with an expected air date of fall 2012.

“It’s also stop motion,” said Dennis, referring to the familiar puppet style of Wapos Bay. “It’s set 41 million years in the future,” he added with a grin.

The series, geared toward teenage boys is purely science fiction.

“In the distant future, the Earth is reborn and nature has been replenished after a global catastrophe triggers a twenty six thousand year long ice age, the result of which has destroyed modern civilization and has brought about the extinction of ninety five percent of planetary species as we know it. Massive bunkers built deep beneath the Earth, are home to the Guardians, advanced machine-like androids were pre-programmed to initiate human births. The Guardians raised the children specifically to re-populate the New Earth. The oldest humans are fifteen years old and must lead the human race. They soon learn that they are not alone on the planet. They discover that an intelligent species, the Dumathar, has staked out a home world beneath the Earth’s oceans.”

Discover The Wonder of Wapos Bay

“I love it when I accidentally stumble upon really cool Canadian stuff. This is, hands down, the coolest kid’s show I have seen in a very long time. Wapos Bay is a super creative stop motion animation television series that is produced in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. It is purely Canadian and super aboriginal. The animation is fantastic and the scripts are funny and engaging. Plenty of Star Wars references and guest appearances by real Canadian celebrities like David Suzuki, Adam Beech, and Jordin Tootoo. It’s so awesome to see puppet versions of these Canadian icons.

Did I mention the website? It’s super interactive with plenty of hidden gems to keep both kids, parents, and animation enthusiasts entertained for more than just a few minutes.

Now if I could just convince them to do a Gogo Bonkers stop motion animation video. Hmmmm. Perhaps a phone call to Anand Ramayya & Dennis Jackson is in order? Sounds like a plan to me. In the meantime, check out Wapos Bay and enjoy!”

- GoGo Bonkers

Read more at  the GoGo Bonkers blog!

Wapos Bay Feature on MBC Radio

Check out this great piece from April’s studio open house courtesy of MBC Radio. It includes an exclusive interview with Dennis Jackson (creator/writer/director/producer), as well as, Melanie Jackson (producer), Ryan Lockwood (transmedia producer) and actress Andrea Menard!

Listen here! Wapos Bay – MBC Radio

New inspiration for Wapos creators

Wapos Bay’s Trevor Cameron, who is the voice of the character Kohkom, and the character Jacob talk over the script in a set up shot.
Photograph by: Sp Gord Waldner, The StarPhoenix

By Sean Trembath, The StarPhoenix April 19, 2011

After a decade, 34 episodes and one feature-length movie, the team behind beloved Saskatchewan stop-motion children’s show Wapos Bay is moving on.

“It’s quite bittersweet. You develop a project for so long. It’s 10 years we’ve been doing Wapos Bay here in Saskatchewan,” said Melanie Jackson, who wrote, produced and directed the show with her husband Dennis.

Monday was the last day of shooting on Long Goodbyes, a movie of the week for APTN, the final chapter of the show. The movie will air this fall, date to be announced.

The Saskatoon studio is still full of characters and sets familiar to all who have seen the show. While some models will be re-purposed, fans could get a chance to own a piece of the show’s history.

“We might have some draws or a contest to be able to take part of Wapos Bay home,” said Melanie.

Promoting the movie has given the studio a chance to try out a new medium, its first video game, in co-operation with Toronto game development studio in Phantom Compass.

“All the visual assets for the video game were produced here in the studio,” said TransMedia producer Ryan Lockwood.

Wapos Racerz is a Mario Kart-style racing game featuring characters and locations from Wapos Bay. The Canadian Media Fund, a federal program designed to encourage development across all forms of digital media, helped with financing.

“We just wanted to extend the whole Wapos Bay experience into other spaces that kids and fans of the series could play, share and interact with,” said Lockwood.

The game, still in development, will be released on several Internet game sites a few weeks before the movie airs.

While sad to see Wapos Bay end, both Dennis and Melanie are ready to move on to Guardians, their next stop-motion project. Guardians is a science fiction series for teenagers set 41 million years in the future after an ice age. The story follows teenagers of various indigenous descents who have been raised from embryos by robots in an underground bunker as they venture out into a world vastly different from what we know today.

The Jacksons have been developing the show for seven years, but the idea goes even farther back.

“It’s a series I’ve always had, since I was 14. It became more affordable to do something sci-fi, with computer software getting better and a lot of animators coming out, especially here in Saskatoon,” said Dennis. His excitement was palpable as he talked about getting the project underway and designing the fantastic settings and creatures his characters will encounter.

“In pre-production, we’re going to be exploring these worlds – what we can build, what has to be computer graphics. It’s just going to be a huge development process,” he said.

Guardians will begin shooting next winter. The first six episodes will air in the fall of 2012 on APTN.

© Copyright (c) The StarPhoenix

Read more: http://www.thestarphoenix.com/entertainment/inspiration+Wapos+creators/4638644/story.html#ixzz1K4vHCg00

Wapos Bay Studio Open House

We’re having another Open House so you can come check out behind-the-scenes of the four-time Gemini award-winning animation studio in Saskatoon!

What: Wapos Bay Studios – Open House
When: Friday, April 15th from 1pm to 6pm
Where: Wapos Bay Studios
Why: So you can get a tour of the studio and meet all different types of crew members, from animators to the creator!

School groups and individuals welcome!

The creators of Wapos Bay will officially announce their new TV series Guardians which will be produced in Saskatchewan. Come get the inside scoop on Wapos Bay The Movie that will premiere this coming fall, and the video game in development with Toronto-based Phantom Compass who has been involved with game projects for CBC, YTV and Teletoon.

Please RSVP to Shelly Bowes at 306-955-0036 or email shebow2000@hotmail.com to save your spot and get more information.

Find the studio via the map below!

Wapos Bay Receives Five Gemini Nominations

1 September 2010 – The Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television announced that Wapos Bay, the stop motion animated children’s series broadcast on APTN and SCN, has received five Gemini Award nominations. The 25th Annual Gemini Awards ceremony will be held in Toronto November 2nd and 3rd, 2010.

Wapos Bay is among five productions nominated for Best Animated Program or Series. DerRic Starlight, the voice behind the character of Devon, received a nomination for Best Performance in an Animated Program or Series. Trevor Cameron earned two nominations; one for Best Direction in an Animated Program or Series, and one for Best Writing in a Children’s or Youth Program or Series, both for the episode, The Hardest Lesson. Ross Nykiforuk joins the list of nominees for Best Original Music Score for an Animated Program or Series (The Hardest Lesson).

The announcement comes on the eve of the broadcast premiere of Season 5 on APTN, the September launch of the digital media properties, and pre-production for the Wapos Bay Movie commencing in October.

Producer/ writer/ director Melanie Jackson comments: “Working on Wapos Bay has been a wondrous experience. The cast and crew have had such faith in the production since we began, that we’ve built a family. I’m very honored and ecstatic with this years nominations and I know with unwavering confidence they are well earned. I offer my congratulations and appreciation to the nominees, cast and crew of Wapos Bay for their hard work and undying enthusiasm for the little show that could!”

Wapos Bay season five premieres Wednesday, October 6th, 2010 on the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (APTN) with special guest star David Suzuki (The Nature of Things). Saskatchewan Communications Network (SCN) broadcasts seasons three and four. Wapos Bay Productions is currently in pre-production for the Movie of the Week.