Author of graphic novel speaks to BU Education students

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A graphic novel by David Robertson, The Life of Helen Betty Osborne.

BRANDON, MB – Wednesday, the author of the graphic novel, The Life of Helen Betty Osborne, took the time to speak to BU Faculty of Education students about making Aboriginal history more accessible and engaging in the classroom.

David Robertson is an author who now lives in Winnipeg, but grew up in the same northern community as Helen Betty Osborne, a young aboriginal woman that was abducted and brutally murdered near The Pas, Manitoba in November of 1971.

“Helen Betty Osborne’s story is well known but still the injustices that affected her murder and the subsequent investigation is still around today,” says Robertson. “So I saw an opportunity to use her story to lead into further learning and further knowledge of the justice system and our Aboriginal women.”
The Life of Helen Betty Osborne is a graphic novel about Osborne’s life up to her kidnapping and murder. In the novel, Osborne’s story is told by a young boy named Daniel.

Robertson feels the format of a graphic novel is far more accessible because they have become more mainstream and the comic book art form is always popular, in particular with youth.

“So, engagement, to me, was easier. But through that engagement, there was a huge opportunity to teach. Secondly, for learners who are challenged, either with their literacy levels or with disabilities, the graphic novel format is proven to be a great way to teach and overcome those barriers.”

Also, included with the graphic novel is a teacher’s guide that Robertson says was not part of the original plan, but has become a welcome addition to the material.

Robertson feels the events in the story represent our ability to change, learn, and grow.

His passion for Aboriginal education can be traced back to his father, Don. He was one of the original founders of BUNTEP (Brandon University Northern Teaching Education Program) and has been involved with many other initiatives both in the province and nationally.

“It has always been a huge influence on my life.”



For more information, please contact:


  • Dr. Helen Armstrong
  • Project Director, SSHRC/CURA
  • Brandon University
  • P: (204) 727-7329



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