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Long Exile

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3.91 of 5 stars 3.91  ·  rating details  ·  127 ratings  ·  32 reviews
In 1952, the Canadian government forcibly relocated three dozen Inuit from their flourishing home on the Hudson Bay to the barren, arctic landscape of Ellesmere Island, the most northerly landmass on the planet. Among this group was Josephie Flaherty, the unrecognized, half-Inuit son of filmmaker Robert Flaherty, director of "Nanook of the North." In a narrative rich with ...more
Published (first published April 3rd 2007)
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Susan
Absolutely absorbing and beautifully written, this book relates the experiences of a group of Inuit who were relocated by the Canadian government from their community on the Eastern shore of Hudson Bay, to the remotest and most uninhabitable islands in the Arctic Circle in order to bolster Canada’s claim on those lands.
Weavre
For anyone who imagines, as I did before reading this book, that the forced relocation of indigenous people in North America was something that happened historically--but not now, not in our lifetimes--The Long Exile is an important wake-up call. The Inuit whose story McGrath tells here were finally allowed the option to leave their involuntary imprisonment on their "reservation" (my term, not hers or theirs) in the most inhospitable lands on Planet Earth other than Antarctica, in ... wait for i ...more
Pancha
This is an excellent book about a terrible topic. McGrath takes the first half of the book to set the scene in Inukjuak in the early 20th century, how the Inuit traditionally lived and how they had adapted to the incursion of the whites. The second section deals with the forced relocation of Inujuak families to the inhospitable and nearly uninhabitable Ellesmere Island in the 1950s, the lies told to the Inuit by the RCMP and the Arctic government, the near starvation conditions they lived in, an ...more
Pam
Oh dear. Another book which gets me riled. Well researched non-fiction about the despicable forced movement of Inuit peoples from their homes on the eastern coast of Hudson Bay to the inhospitable northern Ellesmere Island resulting in starvation. Political decisions made to ensure that Greenland, USA and any Scandinavian country could not go in and claim the land. Justified because the Inuit' it was thought, could survive without support, and the government did not want them to become dependent ...more
Christine
I loved this book! Before reading this book I had just learned that the Inuit people are the same as the Eskimo. I felt pretty clueless about these people and also intrigued by them. This book is about the relocation of Inuit families by Canadian law enforcement to the high Artic where the environment is essentially uninhabitable. Four months out of the year, there is complete and utter darkness. This was done to supposedly allow the Inuit to live their traditional lifestyle of living off then l ...more
Selina
This is a compelling book about the Inuit in Canada and their cruel treatment by the government, who 'relocated' them to the northernmost reaches of the land with promises of abundant game, when in reality there was nothing but ice. Few survived, and few officials cared or would own up to any responsibility.
It is a shocking history. For me it highlights the arrogance of governments. The Inuits were used as political pawns, to inhabit the vast reaches of the arctic in order to claim the land. Th
...more
Elizabeth
For a people isolated not only by geography, social custom and economic development but also by language, the Inuit have had a remarkable amount of patience with the world changing around them. Unlike the other groups of Native Americans, who lashed out in retaliation at the invasive Europeans, the Inuit have always shrugged off the presence of the white men who visit their icelocked worlds. After all, they usually left.

But over time, that had to change at the hands of abuse. Melanie McGrath has
...more
William Walker
This book describes the forcible relocation of a number of Inuit families to the high Arctic in the early 1050s in order to lend support to the Canadian claims of sovereignty to the region, including the Inuit/Caucasian son of the documentary filmmaker who made Nanook of the North. The fact that anyone survived is astonishing. The book is well written with one weakness in the lack of better maps and the somewhat confusing geographic references.
Nigel
A good and easily read insight into how native people have been treated even recently. Using the film "Nanook of the north" as an entry point this looks at the filmmaker the film and his illegitimate son and his family. Effectively conned into moving to a remote spot where life is barely sustainable. Moving and interesting.
Amy
This is an important book. It describes the treatment of Inuit families by the Canadian government and, to a certain extent, Western culture. While most of the dramatic and disturbing parts take place toward the end of the book, the early parts, setting up the disparity of view between the government/whites and the Inuit over approximately 100 years, are equally important. It's a stark portrait of discrimination and judgment. The most appalling aspect of the story is that it took place in the se ...more
Cheryl
A tale of the Eskimos, including the Eskimo son of the man who filmed “Nanook of the North”. A Fascinating look into the lives of the Inuit, and how the misguided policies and interferences by the Canadian government and white people have resulted in enormous suffering and displacement over generations.
Sarah
Nov 18, 2012 Sarah rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Sarah by: Jill
Beleaguering details slow the pace and bog down the essential story of survival and betrayal. I think the book would have been more successful as a series of short stories, à la Hemingway's Nick stories. The overarching connection of the Flaherty family to the relocation of the Inuit could then have been more clearly established without having to provide intervening history to tie the chronology together.

The language was sometimes so unique that whole sentences were undecodable. One such senten
...more
Keith Eldridge
This non-fiction book starts with Robert Flaherty venturing to Canada to make a film about the Inuit (Eskimos), the 1920 silent movie, Nanook of the North. His film is considered to be the first documentary and by some, including Martin Scorsese, the greatest documentary ever made. From here the book totally changes in tone and them. The Inuits are moved, by the Canadian government, to a harsh land about a 1000 miles north. This movement and abandonment parallels what the United States did to th ...more
Lizz
Story is very compelling, but the writing is not. Lots of errors and poor style that distract from the content - though perhaps this is only in the edition I read.
Beverly Rodowski
A really good book. It deals with an aspect of Canadian history which I'm sure we all would rather not exist. What I like about the book is that it introduces all the persons involved in the relocation of Inuit in the early 1950s. From the film-maker who fathered one of the men who relocated, to the officials in Ottawa, to the new RCMP officer given the job of finding "volunteers," and of course to those who moved. It shares the extremely mismanaged execution of the move. It shares the physical ...more
Gramarye
A qualified two-star review, as the final third of the book is by far superior to the purple prose that bogs down the first third of the book and spills over into the middle. Once McGrath finally allows the terrible experiences of the Inuit to speak for themselves, rather than dressing up their pasts with paragraph after paragraph of turgid descriptions and unnecessary fictionalisation, the story becomes that much more gripping and painful to read. Stick with an actual history book, or skip the ...more
Tess
Beautifully written, gripping non-fiction account of terrible injustice and human rights violations of the worst kind against several Inuit families who were, in 1953, forcibly relocated by the Canadian government, from their home on the Hudson Bay to the barren, arctic landscape of Ellesmere Island, 1,200 miles to the north, the most northerly landmass on the planet. Extremely informative and very moving.
Lynne
This book chronicles one family's experience with the removal of the Inuit to the far reaches of the Arctic at the hands of the Canadian government. I knew nothing of this history before I read the book and found it fascinating. It is very well-written and not at all dry.
Michelle
This is a great book detailing the forced migration of the Inuit in Canada. Their story is told by telling the history of one family in particular. I learned a lot about Inuit culture and I also learned about how awful they were treated by the Canadian government.
Kyla
Could have/should have been completely fascinating - Nanook of the North and illegitimate children and horrible government programs and arctic exploration in a True Life story. Yet I still put the book down halfway through and never picked it up again.
Nanita
I picked this book up off of my cousin's shelf when I was visiting her in Toronto and it caused some problems because I promptly became anti-social since I couldn't put it down. It's a fascinating mix of history, film, anthropology and family.
Chris
Apr 15, 2007 Chris marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
I have a new abreviation: TTBRMMWTRT, or "The Time Book Review Made Me Want to Read This". The story of a group of Inuit who were forced by the Cannadian government to spend fifty years living on the most god-forsaken island in the far, far north.
Michelle
Another Arctic favourite. The story of the establishment of Canada's most northerly settlements. The Canadian government recently apologized for the events described in the book.
Mark
shocking true story
Anne Green
No more whining when life is hard - read this history about the treatment of Inuit by the Canadian government.
S
Some real poetry in here, along with great detail about Inuit life and an insightful, mature take on a tragedy.
Linda
A true story of endurance, betrayal and survival in the canadian arctic... an amazing, heart wrenching story.
Meredith Tanner
A few too many sloppy errors to make it wholly enjoyable but definitely an interesting story!
Jody
Powerful piece of writing. "History" that we are not taught in schools.
Florence
The betrayal of these people was almost beyond belief.
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Aka M.J. McGrath

Melanie McGrath was born in Essex. Her first book, Motel Nirvana, won the John Llewelyn-Rhys/Mail on Sunday award for Best New British and Commonwealth Writer under 35. She is also the author of Hard, Soft and Wet: The Digital Generation Comes of Age, and Silvertown: An East End Family Memoir. She writes for The Guardian, The Independent, The Times, The Evening Standard and Conde N
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Silvertown: An East End Family Memoir Motel Nirvana: Dreaming of the New Age in the American Desert Hopping Hard, Soft And Wet Där ingen har gått

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