Indigenous Reads at Mabel's Fables
This morning the children of Midtown (and their parents) got to learn some basic Inuktitut from Juno award winning singer/songwriter Susan Aglukark. Mount Pleasant bookstore Mabel’s Fables hosted another fantastic event which launched the 3rd annual #IndigenousReads Holiday Campaign.
#IndigenousReads “encourages reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples by sharing Indigenous literature.” In June of this year, a number of novels by indigenous authors were featured as part of the campaign, and this event marked the launch of a focus on indigenous themed children’s literature.
Attended by the Honourable Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Member of Parliament for Toronto-St. Paul's, Rob Oliphant, Member of Parliament for Don Valley West, as well as local city counsellor Josh Matlow, the event included a reading of Aglukark’s new children’s book Una Huna? What Is This?. Aglukark signed the famed author’s wall upstairs at Mabel’s Fables and performed two songs for the audience - one from her new album coming out in the New Year, and the other a Christmas song her son used to perform with her on stage nearly two decades ago.
Aglukark spoke of growing up in Arviat, Nunavut (formerly part of Northwest Territories) and how inspiration for her series of children’s books came from her parent and grandparents who had a traditional upbringing, and wanting to share that history and culture. While so much has changed in the last few generations (Aglukark herself remarked that she has never slept in an igloo while her parents and grandparents did), the themes of her books centre around culture, family and Inuit community.
Una Huna? What Is This? tells the story of and Inuit girl named Ukpik, who lives in the north with her family. When trade brings utensils to their community, Ukpik goes on a mission to understand the purpose of a knife, fork and spoon, and to teach her peers about them. This curiosity about these new tools comes with some concern, as Ukpik worries that there will be too much change. Her grandmother helps Ukpik understand that while many things may change, her love for family and community will not.
Complete with an English-Inuk glossary at the back of the book, this story not only shares a story of Inuit culture, but also introduces a new language to families who read the book.
What better way to increase Canadians' understanding of Indigenous issues, cultures, and history than to share stories with Canadian youth.