This fictional coming-of-age story traces a young girl's reluctant journey by canoe through the ancestral lands of the Tlicho People, as she gradually comes to understand and appreciate their culture and the significance of their fight for self-government.
"Journal of a Travelling Girl deserves to be in every northern classroom. There is so much to learn here, and there is so much to celebrate." —Richard Van Camp, Tlicho author of The Lesser Blessed and Moccasin Square Gardens
Eleven-year-old Julia has lived in Wekweètì, NWT, since she was five. Although the people of Wekweètì have always treated her as one of their own, Julia sometimes feels like an outsider, disconnected from the traditions and ancestral roots that are so central to the local culture.
When Julia sets off on the canoe trip she is happy her best friends, Layla and Alice, will also be there. However, the trip is nothing like she expected. She is afraid of falling off the boat, of bears, and of storms. Layla's grandparents (who Julia calls Grandma and Grandpa) put her to work but won't let her paddle the canoe. While on land Julia would rather goof around with her friends than do chores. Gradually, Grandma and Grandpa show her how to survive on the land and pull her own weight, and share their traditional stories with her. Julia learns to gather wood, cook, clean, and paddle the canoe, becoming more mature and responsible each day. The journey ends at Behchoko, where the historic Tlicho Agreement of 2005 is signed, and the Tlicho People celebrate their hard-won right to self-government. Julia is there to witness history.
Inspired by true events, this story was written at the request of John B. Zoe, Chief Negotiator of the Tlicho Agreement, as a way of teaching the Tlicho youth about that landmark achievement. Journal of a Travelling Girl has been read and endorsed by several Wekweètì community members and Elders. The book will appeal to both Indigenous and non-Indigenous children for its relatable themes of family, loss, coming-of-age, and the struggle to connect with tradition and culture.
"Journal of a Travelling Girl is an absolutely wonderful and timely book that will appeal to girls and boys of any race, colour, or creed. During this time of reconciliation it is necessary for all young people to learn and embrace the ways of our Indigenous ancestors. This book will do that!" —Verna J. Kirkness, author of Creating Space: My Life and Work in Indigenous Education
"As a person born and raised right on the land, Nadine Neema's Journal of a Travelling Girl rings as true to me as the blue skies and open land she so lovingly recounts." —Antoine Mountain, Dene writer and artist
"Journal of a Travelling Girl is not only about people who generously welcome a young girl to share in a special journey, but it introduces readers to an important moment of history." —Kathy Lowinger, co-author (with Eldon Yellowhorn) of What the Eagle Sees: Indigenous Stories of Rebellion and Renewal and Turtle Island: The Story of North America's First People
"Nadine Neema presents a unique and enlightening glimpse into the customs and culture of the Wekweèti community while exploring themes of acceptance, tolerance, equality, and reparation. . . This is a crucial and timely story. A must read for young readers!" —Tina Athaide, author of Orange for the Sunsets
"A wonderful account, through the eyes of a young girl, of our people’s ways of doing things today, guided by our strong history of storytelling." —Tammy Steinwand, Director, Department of Culture and Lands Protection, Tlicho Government
"What an absolute treasure for the Tlicho Nation and for the world. . . Journal of a Travelling Girl deserves to be in every northern classroom. There is so much to learn here, and there is so much to celebrate." —Richard Van Camp, Tlicho author of The Lesser Blessed and Moccasin Square Gardens