Margaret Pokiak-Fenton

Margaret Pokiak-Fenton was born on Holman Island in the Arctic Ocean, en route with her nomadic family to their winter hunting grounds on Banks Island. She spent her early years on Banks Island. Being Inuvialuit, her young childhood was filled with hunting trips by dogsled, and dangerous treks across the Arctic Ocean for supplies, in a schooner known as the North Star. At the age of eight, she travelled to Aklavik, a fur trading settlement founded by her great-grandfather, to attend the Catholic residential school there. Unlike most children, she begged to go to the school, despite the horrific reputation of residential schools. There was nothing she wanted more than to learn how to read.

She later settled in Tuktoyaktuk where her family had relocated. While working for the Hudson’s Bay Company there, she met her future husband Lyle, who was employed on the Dew Line project. She followed him south to Fort St. John. Together they raised eight children.

Margaret is well known for her traditional handmade Inuit crafts and has showcased them at the Northern Arts Festival many times. Most Saturdays she can be found at the local farmer’s market in Fort St. John where she sells her beautifully beaded and adorned crafts and the best bread and bannock in the North Peace.

A Stranger at Home: A True Story
Editors:
Liz Amini-Holmes
Format: Paperback
Text Content Territories: Inuit; Inuvialuit;

The powerful memoir of an Inuvialuit girl searching for her true self when she returns from residential school. 

Traveling to be reunited with her family in the Arctic, 10-year-old Margaret Pokiak can hardly contain her excitement. It's been two years since her parents delivered her to the school run by the dark-cloaked nuns and brothers. 

Coming ashore, Margaret spots her family, but her mother barely recognizes her, screaming, "Not my girl." Margaret realizes she is now marked as an outsider. 

And Margaret is an outsider: she has forgotten the language and stories of her people, and she can't even stomach the food her mother prepares. 

However, Margaret gradually relearns her language and her family's way of living. Along the way, she discovers how important it is to remain true to the ways of her people -- and to herself. 

Highlighted by archival photos and striking artwork, this first-person account of a young girl's struggle to find her place will inspire young readers to ask what it means to belong.

Sequel to Fatty Legs.

Reviews
"This memoir, detailing a woeful piece of Canadian history and demonstrating Margaret's strength of character, compassion, courage and her willingness to sacrifice herself for her family's sake, gives the reader a lot to ponder. Highly recommended." — Shelbey Krahn, Canadian Materials, February 2012

"A Stranger at Home will speak to anyone who has experienced displacement or assimilation into a new culture. This fabulous story enhances the Grades 6 to 8 social studies curriculum." — Professionally Speaking (Ontario College of Teache, April 2012

"While it may not have the same drama and tension of the first memoir, this tale provides a compelling and moving story of a girl searching for the strength to find her place in the world." — Jody Kopple, School Library Journal, December 2011

"Without being graphic or overwhelming, the Fentons recreate a tragic moment in Canadian history through the innocent reflections of a child...a must for any classroom library." — Canadian Teacher Magazine, May 2012

"This tale provides a compelling and moving story of a girl searching for the strength to find her place in the world. The writing is unpretentious and accessible and readers who enjoyed the first book will find this an interesting follow-up. Vivid paintings are a beautiful accompaniment to the storytelling. Photographs from Pokiak Fenton's own collection add important points of reference for readers looking to visualize the characters and the unique setting of the Arctic Circle. A welcome addition to biography collections." — Jody Kopple, School Library Journal, December 2011

Educator Information
Recommended Ages: 9-13.

Guided Reading Level: Fountas and Pinnell U

Themes: biography; Inuit; Indigenous peoples; arctic; residential schools; identity; community; Canadian content; family; society; history; memoir.

Additional Information
128 pages | 6.25" x 9.00"

 

Authentic Canadian Content
Authentic Indigenous Text
$12.95

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Etrangere chez moi
Format: Paperback
Text Content Territories: Inuit;
Margaret a dix ans et elle se réjouit à l’idée de rentrer à la maison après avoir passé deux ans dans un pensionnat. Mais quand elle retrouve enfin sa famille, sa mère ne la reconnaît pas et crie : « Pas ma fille! » Cet accueil n’est pas celui que Margaret espérait. Elle a oublié la langue de son peuple et a du mal à avaler la nourriture de sa mère. Margaret n’a même pas le droit de jouer avec son amie Agnès parce que les gens trouvent qu’elle ressemble trop aux étrangers détestés. Elle est devenue une étrangère parmi les siens.

Dans ce deuxième livre extraordinaire, Margaret dépeint le portrait de son apprentissage difficile pour retrouver sa place et réconcilier son ancienne personnalité avec la nouvelle.


Christy Jordan-Fenton vit à Fort St. John, en Colombie-Britannique, Margaret Pokiak-Fenton est sa belle-mère.

Margaret Pokiak-Fenton a passé son enfance sur l’Île Banks dans l’océan Arctique. Elle vit maintenant à Fort St. John, en Colombie-Britannique.

Liz Amini-Holmes est diplômée de l’Academy of Art College de San Francisco. Elle illustre des livres pour enfants et travaille pour différents journaux, magazines et entreprises qui oeuvrent notamment dans le domaine de l’éducation et du jeu. Elle vit à San Francisco, en Californie.
$16.99

Out of Print
Fatty Legs: A True Story
Artists:
Liz Amini-Holmes
Format: Paperback
Text Content Territories: Inuit; Inuvialuit;

The moving memoir of an Inuit girl who emerges from a residential school with her spirit intact. 

Eight-year-old Margaret Pokiak has set her sights on learning to read, even though it means leaving her village in the high Arctic. Faced with unceasing pressure, her father finally agrees to let her make the five-day journey to attend school, but he warns Margaret of the terrors of residential schools. 

At school Margaret soon encounters the Raven, a black-cloaked nun with a hooked nose and bony fingers that resemble claws. She immediately dislikes the strong-willed young Margaret. Intending to humiliate her, the heartless Raven gives gray stockings to all the girls -- all except Margaret, who gets red ones. In an instant Margaret is the laughingstock of the entire school. 

In the face of such cruelty, Margaret refuses to be intimidated and bravely gets rid of the stockings. Although a sympathetic nun stands up for Margaret, in the end it is this brave young girl who gives the Raven a lesson in the power of human dignity. 

Complemented by archival photos from Margaret Pokiak-Fenton's collection and striking artwork from Liz Amini-Holmes, this inspiring first-person account of a plucky girl's determination to confront her tormentor will linger with young readers.

Awards

  • First Nation Communities Read recipient, 2011-2012

Reviews
"I highly recommend this book for the discussion it would stir with students...Makes the harrowing residential school stories accessible to youth." — Resource Links, December 2010

"Presents a unique and enlightening glimpse into the residential school experience and, most importantly, one little girl's triumph over her oppressors." — Quill & Quire, November 2010

Educator Information
Fountas and Pinnell T

Themes: biography; Inuit; Indigenous peoples; Indigenous; arctic; school; self-esteem; abuse; community; prejudice; Canadian content; courage/bravery; right vs. wrong; role reversal; secrets; society; history; bullying; memoir; character education.

Additional Information
112 pages | 6.25" x 9.00" | full-color illustrations, archival photographs, map

Authenticity Note
This illustrator of this book is not Indigenous; therefore, her artwork is not considered to be Authentic Indigenous Artwork according to Strong Nations Authenticity Guidelines. The archival photos from Margaret Pokiak-Fenton's personal collection, however, are considered to be authentic, which is why the book is labelled as containing Authentic Indigenous Artwork. It is up to readers to determine whether or not the images in this work are authentic for their purposes.

Authentic Canadian Content
Authentic Indigenous Text
Authentic Indigenous Artwork
$12.95

Quantity:
Les bas du pensionnat
Format: Paperback
Margaret Pokiak est une jeune Inuit de 8 ans. Son désir le plus cher est d'aller à l'école pour apprendre à lire, même s'il lui faut quitter son village arctique. Sa famille tente de la décourager, mais rien ne peut la faire changer d'avis et c'est à contrecoeur que son père consent enfin à la laisser partir.

Une fois à l'école, Margaret est confrontée à une religieuse cruelle dont le nez ressemble à un bec d'aigle. Dès les premiers jours, celle-ci s'en prend à la jeune fille qu'elle juge têtue et rebelle. Avec l'intention de l'humilier, elle lui confie les tâches les plus ardues et la force même à porter des bas rouges, qui lui font paraître les jambes énormes, alors que toutes les autres pensionnaires portent des bas gris. Margaret travaille dur tout en rêvant au jour où elle pourra enfin quitter le pensionnat pour ne plus jamais y remettre les pieds...

Incluant des photos d'archives de Margaret Pokiak-Fenton et des illustrations éloquentes de l'artiste Liz Amini-Holmes, ce livre est le témoignage émouvant d'une jeune fille déterminée à réussir dans l'adversité.
$16.99

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