Mini Aodla Freeman's Life Among the Qallunaat—a memoir of her experiences in the north and of working for the Department of Northern Affairs during the late 1950s—was first published in 1978, and appears now in a brand new edition edited and with an afterword by Keavy Martin and Julie Rak, with Norma Dunning. The new book begins with a conversation between Freeman, Martin and Dunning, excerpted here, in which they discuss how Freeman came to write her memoir, its enthusiastic reception by readers, and how copies were kept in a basement at Indian Affairs for fear that Freeman had included details of her time at residential school. (Freeman says, "I should have, but I didn't.)
The original publication of Life Among the Qallunaat (1978) began with a foreword by Alex Stevenson, the "Administrator of the Arctic" who had worked at the Department of Northern Affairs and Natural Resources during the time when Mini Aodla Freeman was employed there as a translator (1957–1960).
To provide context for this new edition, Aodla Freeman detailed her experiences of writing and publishing the original text in an interview with Keavy Martin and Norma Dunning. This excerpt is taken from a longer discussion recorded on March 20, 2014, at Aodla Freeman’s home in Edmonton.
Keavy Martin is author of the new book Stories in a New Skin: Approaches to Inuit Literature. Here, she recommends some of her favourite reads on Inuit culture, Indigenous culture, and the history of Western Canada.
If This Is Your Land, Where Are Your Stories?: Finding Common Ground by J. Edward Chamberlin: This is one of the first books that really got me thinking about Indigenous rights—and about the stories through which we all lay claim to land. But the thing that still inspires me to this day is the way that Ted Chamberlin navigates these tricky issues. Weaving in and out of tales from his own, extensive experience in Indigenous territories around the world, Ted models for me what a good and responsible scholar should do: honour the expertise that exists outside of the Ivory Tower—and the readers out there too.