CM . . .
. Volume XIX Number 38. . . .May 31, 2013
My mother told me that asking kinauvilli is a good, traditional way to greet a stranger because it helps others understand who you are, who your family is, and where you come from. It is important to discover connections between you and others; how you might be related or how your grandfather might have hunted with theirs. If two people are connected, they're more likely to help one another.
In the eighth book in the "This Land is Our Storybook" series, readers meet Darla Evyagotailak, a 16-year-old high school student from Kugluktuk, Nunavut. She loves soccer, square dancing and hopes to become a carpenter. She is also very close to her extended family and wants to learn as much as she can about her heritage from her elders. In candid, first person narration, Darla describes a five day journey by sled and snowmobile to visit Ulukhaktok, a Northwest Territories community where her great-grandparents grew up.
Darla struggles with losing traditions that have been in her family for generations. She can't speak Inuinnaqtun, the language of her great-great grandmother, and this concerns her: "That makes me feel sad, and sometimes I feel like an outsider … I want to know more about who I am and where I come from." A photograph of Darla and her great-grandmother shopping for groceries evocatively captures the straddling of modern and traditional ways of life. The picture shows shelves of packaged foods, and the caption reads: “During the trip they will eat caribou and fish, but Darla is used to eating 'town food'".
Darla also reflects upon her older brother’s suicide: "Sometimes there is a lot of sadness around me, and I wonder why. It's really hard to talk about, and I don’t always have the words to describe how I feel". Co-author Mindy Willett reflectively writes, "The North has Canada's highest rate of suicide. No one knows exactly why. Hopefully, by talking about these tragedies, fewer of them will happen." This statement is especially poignant with the accompanying picture of Charles Amos holding his baby son.
No Borders is beautifully designed with engaging photographs that give an intimate glimpse into Darla’s life. There are sidebars entitled "Our Words", "Our Stories" and "The Land is our Storybook." End matter includes information on "Inuit Identity Tags", "Tattoos in Inuit Culture" and "The Evolution of the NWT Boundary", making No Borders a thought-provoking introduction to Inuit culture.
Linda Ludke is a librarian in London, ON.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.