Richard Van Camp is from the Dogrib Nation of Fort Smith, Northwest Territories, he is half white and half Dogrib. He is the eldest of four boys.
Van Camp is a graduate of the University of Victoria’s Creative Writing BFA Program, and holds a Master’s Degree in Creative Writing from the University of British Columbia.
He currently teaches Creative Writing with an Aboriginal Focus at UBC. He has worked with the Emily Carr Institute teaching Creative Writing and Storytelling, as well as, the Justice Institute of British Columbia with their Aboriginal Leadership Program. He is also CBC Radio’s Writer in Residence for their North by Northwest Program.
Van Camp describes his childhood as growing up in a loving home and family, with parents who were taxidermist. He writes about values and themes such as family, identity, culture, respect and the essential question: “What does it mean to be Dogrib?” As well, Van Camp writes about animals as he believes that there is so much to learn from animals and that people have a
responsibility as caretakers of this earth. He encourages children when he reads to them that, if there’s an animal they love, they should learn as much as possible about that animal, and try to help them.
When Van Camp was asked if he’d like George Littlechild to illustrate his first novel for children, A Man Called Raven, in 1997, he was ecstatic. Van Camp was already an enormous fan of Littlechild’s artwork. Because Littlechild had to learn about Raven’s and the Dogrib people for A Man Called Raven, Litttlechild chose the topic for their second project, horses, an animal that is meaningful to his Cree people. Van Camp, who is from the North, tells how he had very little experience or knowledge of horses. In just five short days in 1998 Van Camp began asking the question, “What’s the Most Beautiful Thing You Know About Horses?” to his family, friends and community.
“Why I became an author is very interesting and simple: nobody was writing the stories about my life and my experience, what I saw, what I felt, what I heard, what I sensed”. (http://www.papertigers.org/interviews/archived_interviews/rvcamp.html).