Clearwater teacher publishes children's book about missing Ryan Shtuka | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Clearwater teacher publishes children's book about missing Ryan Shtuka

Teacher Indigo Johnson reading her book to students at Raft River Elementary School in Clearwater.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/ Indigo Johnson

A children’s book inspired by the hope and community connection that emerged from the tragedy of Ryan Shutka’s disappearance is now available.

Author and teacher Indigo Johnson has been putting The Kindness Quilt together since writing it for a teacher’s course in 2020.

“It was very emotional holding my completed book in my hands,” she said. “My biggest goal was to hand the family a copy at the fifth year anniversary at Sun Peaks a few weeks ago.”

Johnson has been close with the Shtuka family as they’ve searched for their son who went missing from Sun Peaks Resort near Kamloops on Feb. 17, 2018.

People from all over the country have been following the family’s story on social media, sending words of support, and showing up to help search for Ryan. The kindness shown sparked Johnson to write, illustrate and self-publish her book to share Ryan’s story with students.

“The acts of kindness around Ryan’s family made a huge impact on me,” Johnson said. “The majority of people who came to help were strangers, and for them to take a moment, or hours or weeks to help strangers through tragedy is not something we see often anymore. The friendships that have come out of it from all walks of life is amazing.”

Children's book by Clearwater teacher Indigo Johnson.
Children's book by Clearwater teacher Indigo Johnson.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/ Indigo Johnson

The children’s book is about a little dinosaur, the symbol for Ryan, that gets lost and animals work together to build a kindness quilt where every act of kindness adds a square.

“The quilt gets bigger and brighter and the dino finds his way back to his family by the light of it,” Johnson said. “I made the ending child friendly and hope in some way there is a similar conclusion for the Shtuka family.”

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Johnson read the book to students where she works at Raft River Elementary School in Clearwater during a kindness week the school put on in February, and the students made a quilt.

“The quilt is about pieces coming together where every small act is part of a bigger impact, and the kids got it,” she said.

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At the back of the book are photos of Ryan and notes on his story for older students to read. The quilt is hanging in front of the school office.

“I see kids stop all the time and look to find their square and their friends’ squares, it is pretty special,” Johnson said.

Clearwater teacher and author Indigo Johnson.
Clearwater teacher and author Indigo Johnson.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/ Indigo Johnson

The Kindness Quilt is now available for purchase on Amazon and is for children from kindergarten to grade 7.

Personal order forms are becoming available on Johnson’s website later this month. 

Part of the purchase proceeds go to The Free Bird Project, a non-profit co-founded by Ryan’s mom Heather Shtuka to help families of missing people.

Heather Shtuka recently released her book about the family’s journey since her son’s disappearance called Missing From Me.

Go here for more stories about Ryan Shtuka.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Shannon Ainslie or call 250-819-6089 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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