This reading guide is designed to accompany Christy Jordan-Fenton and Margaret-Olemaun Pokiak-Fenton’s middle reader book Fatty Legs. We hold the belief that anti-racist practice is a process of learning (and unlearning) over time. Reading Is Resistance sees reading as an opportunity to seed deeper conversations and possibilities for action around racial justice in our communities.
Lesson content was written by Zapoura Newton-Calvert and was designed to start and deepen anti-bias/anti-racist conversations in families and other learning communities.
FAMILY, RESIDENTIAL SCHOOLS, FIRST NATIONS, ASSIMILATION, ACTION
This book is non-fiction, a real story of Olemaun Pokiak, an Inuvialuktun (Inuit) girl of eight years. She is very curious about the “outsider” school where her sister learned to read. Even though her father and sister warn her that the school is not what she thinks it is, she can only think of how exciting it would be to read.
Olemaun finally begs her father so many times to go to school that he gives in. She is taken to the outsider school, renamed with an English name (Margaret), given a scratchy uniform, and made to cut her hair. Instead of learning to read, the children are forced to clean, work in a hospital, and assimilate to Christianity and English speaking/cultural ways by the nuns at the school. Olemaun realizes that attending the school is a horrible mistake and dreams of the day when her family will come to pick her up.