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A Stranger at Home

4.20  ·  Rating details ·  296 ratings  ·  47 reviews
Traveling to be reunited with her family in the arctic, 10-year-old Margaret Pokiak can hardly contain her excitement. It’s been two years since her parents delivered her to the school run by the dark-cloaked nuns and brothers. Coming ashore, Margaret spots her family, but her mother barely recognizes her, screaming, “Not my girl.” Margaret realizes she is now marked as an ...more
Paperback, 112 pages
Published September 1st 2011 by Annick Press (first published August 1st 2011)
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Average rating 4.20  · 
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Feb 09, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoirs
Story Description:

The powerful memoir of an Inuvialuit girl searching for her true self when she returns from residential school.
Traveling to be reunited with her family in the Arctic, 10-year-old Margaret Pokiak can hardly contain her excitement. It's been two years since her parents delivered her to the school run by the dark-cloaked nuns and brothers.
Coming ashore, Margaret spots her family, but her mother barely recognizes her, screaming, "Not my girl." Margaret reali
A Stranger at Home is the sequel to Fatty Legs. In Fatty Legs, we hear about Olemaun (Margaret) Pokiak who attends a residential school, and her experiences while she was there. In A Stranger at Home, Olemaun tells us of her time following the residential school.

I've never actually read a book specifically dealing with the traumatic aftermath of the Indian Residential School system, and this was honestly eye-opening for me. It is one thing to read that the aftermath brought further t
Aug 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2015, kids-and-youth
After returning from two years at a residential school, Margaret now faces the challenge of no longer fitting in within her community. A moving true story about how the school changed her and her struggle to be accepted again.
Artwork by Liz Amini-Holmes
Published by Annick Press

This book is the life of author, Margaret Pokiak-Fenton, the sequel to "Fatty Legs" by the same authors. It is also the life of Canada's shame, the story of how the government took the children away from all aboriginal nations and sent them to Catholic residential schools. "A Stranger at Home" tells the true story of Margaret's return to her parents in Tuktoyaktuk, Northwest Territories and how she was snubbed by family, friends, and townspeople. I have not read
Sep 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
In the sequel to Fatty Legs we see the devastating effects of cultural genocide via the assimilationist policies of residential school.

This memoir strips bare the harsh reality of returning to your family and community having had your language and culture stripped from you.

This past week I’ve immersed myself in residential school stories to better understand this trauma that survivors experience. In my opinion, the work of Christy Jordan-Fenton has helped immensely in that pursuit.
Janice Forman
This book is in a recommended reading list for Aboriginal Resources for young people. I decided that I would read all the books in the list -- for my own interest and simply to take a look at the reading information available to young readers.

"A Stranger at Home" is a sequel to "Fatty Legs" and answers some of the questions I had regarding Margaret's return to her family in the high Arctic after two years at the Catholic, Residential School in Aklavik. Named Olemaun Pokiak for the fi
Jul 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Definitely worth the read, especially when read in conjunction with its prequel, Fatty Legs, by the same mother/daughter-in-law writing team.
Fatty Legs by Christy Jordan-Fenton
In this middle-grade novel, Margaret/Olemaun struggles to reintegrate with her home community after two years away at a Roman Catholic run Residential School. She cannot remember her language and has difficulty communicating with everyone, inclu
Clare Cannon
Jan 23, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 08-12yrs
I know this is a story that needs to be told: the effect of taking Indigenous children away from their parents to educate them during colonisation, but this telling is quite bitter. No doubt some of the situations faced were bitter, but here the bitterness is turned towards making all of the nuns and brothers who undertook this education quite evil: ruthless with punishment, cruel and lacking affection, and down-right scary with their shaved heads underneath their habits. Their faith seems to ha ...more
Aug 22, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Even better than Fatty Legs, the prequel to this moving story, because of the sense of disconnection that Olemaun aka Margaret feels from her family and her community as a result of her residential schooling in Canada's far north and Christy Jordan-Fenton and Margaret Pokiak-Fenton get that sense of numbing isolation just right - a brilliant book
Raegan Rocco
Nov 16, 2011 rated it it was amazing
After reading Fatty Legs, I was really looking forward to this story and I'm so glad I read was so touching. A moving story about love, learning who we really are and honoring ourselves and our culture. I LOVED this book and would strongly recommend it, but read Fatty Legs First!
Mar 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
Really gives a strong sense of the alienation caused by the residential school system, based on language disruption and custom disruption and even diet.

One of the most disturbing things is that the story only mentions three other people who have had schooling: her father, one friend (whom she temporarily cannot talk to as the friend's mother is trying to get her back to normal), and a sister who doesn't seem to be around. As many children as are taken to the school, it makes you wonder how many
Azra Benić
Sep 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
amazing I had read fatty legs and wanted to hear the whole story and it was the most saddest thing I ever read and knowing it was a true story it was just sadder
Jul 11, 2016 rated it really liked it
The true story of Olemaun, an Inuit child who, struggles to once more become part of her family and culture, upon her return from a residential school.
The heart breaking way Olemaun no longer belongs, unable to communicate effectively with her family or participate in her culture is well presented, making Olemaun seem very alone. Slowly she regains the skills she needs for survival and happiness in her community.
This is not a happy story, yet it is one filled with hope. Olemaun is a resilie
Lorraine Montgomery
Jun 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
Margaret Pokiak-Fenton (now in her 80s) and her daughter-in-law, Christy Jordan-Fenton together have authored this book, the follow up to fatty legs, Margaret's true story of her experiences as a child that she kept secret for many, many years. The books are two parts of a whole.  When Margaret was seven, her sister read to her from the collection of coloured books their father had given her for Christmas.  Margaret wanted to learn to read so badly; there was so much she wanted to learn. She pes ...more
Sheila Ahyakak-Yazzie
Jan 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I am an Inupiaq high school student from Barrow, Alaska. I read this book because when I read the first book "Fatty Legs." It interested me to keep on reading to find out what it was like for Olemaun when she went back home to her family. I liked this book because it told a story about a young girl that is brave enough to go to the outsiders school and experience what it was like to go and learn new things. But, when she went to the outsider school which was in Aklavik, Canada she realized she d ...more
In the sequel to “Fatty legs”, Margaret continues her story after two terrible years at the Catholic boarding school when she is finally able to go home to her family. Because she wasn’t allowed to speak anything other than English at school she actually forgot how to speak to her family. Only her father knows English and she works very hard to get herself back. She finds that she is not the same Olemaun as she was when she left home – even her mother doesn’t recognize her with her short outside ...more
Feb 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I am a high school student in Utqiaġvik, the northernmost town in Alaska. I read this book as part of a course in Iñupiaq literature after reading the first part of the story in the book, Fatty Legs. Most of the students in my school and in this class are Iñupiaq so they relate to the stories on a cultural level. I am Tongan so I am learning a lot about the history and the culture of the Arctic people through the books we read. This book better helped me understand the importance of language. I ...more
Feb 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I am high school student in Utqiaġvik, the northernmost town in Alaska. I read this book as part of my high school Iñupiaq literature class. I chose to read it becuase I had read the book Fatty Legs and wanted to know how the story continued. I really related to Olemaun in the story because she struggled to understand her native language and had to be taught the language again. I relate to her because I struggle understanding my native language and my family helps me learn more of how to speak i ...more
Darya Kowalski
Jun 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: young-adult
A continuation of the story of Olemaun from Fatty Legs; A young girl sent to a residential school. A Stranger at Home is about Olemaun's return home after a two year absence. She is treated as an outsider instead of welcomed.

I liked how a lot of vocabulary and information about her native way of life was introduced throughout the book. My class enjoyed this book and had a deeper understanding of the impact that residential schools had on children at that time. The information at the
May 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book is just as strong as the first written by these authors, Fatty Legs , and in some way, presents a different perspective than a lot of the literature for children about residential schools. Many of the books out there for kids on this topic focus on the time spent at the schools, which is obviously incredibly important to highlight, but I really appreciated finding out more about the specific ways it could have been challenging for an Indigenous child to try to reintegrate with their c ...more
Jun 23, 2012 rated it really liked it
Margaret is home from residential school and is finding it hard to fit in with her family. Unable to speak her own language nor eat the traditional foods her mother has made for her, Margaret realizes that she has been more changed by her experience at residential school than she realized. Can she find a way to navigate her life with her family? Especially given what is coming.

Another painful memoir from Margaret Pokiak-Fenton that continues to explore the impact of residential schoo
Nellie Rulland
Mar 09, 2015 rated it really liked it
I'm an Iñupiaq living in Barrow, Alaska and am a senior in high school. I enjoyed this book. I had a few connections with this book. One of my connections is that I went to boarding school as well. When missionaries came to pick children up for school, they were gone for years at a time and they lost their language because they were not allowed to speak it when they were at boarding school. I know Elders in my community that went to Sitka and Wrangell for their schooling and lost some of their l ...more
Jesley Gon
Oct 06, 2014 rated it liked it
The main character went to a residential school after that she went home then she is a stranger to her family and people.She slowly goes back to her traditional life style like dogsledding hunting with her father eating traditional foods. The people from the school come back to bring students back to residential school including the main character. Her family was sad and crying when she had to return back to residential school, Her younger siblings went with her to residential school.

Oct 01, 2012 rated it liked it
Sequel to “Fatty Legs”. This memoir continues the story of Olemaun, aka Margaret, an Alaskan Inuit girl who was sent away from her family to boarding school. Now she is rejoining her family but is having a difficult time readjusting; she has lost her taste for once familiar foods and has lost much of her native tongue after being forced to speak English only at school. Interspersed with colorful illustrations plus actual family photographs at the end of the book, this is a candid look at what In ...more
Julian Black
Oct 27, 2014 rated it it was ok
This book was ok. What I liked about it was she went hunting with her dad and she likes her dog.

-A stranger at home is about a young inuit girl, who went to residential school, then came back home. She's not use to her culture stuff like gating traditional food and only likes food bought from the store. Her and her dad go to hudson's bay store and see a stranger carrying furs. she was crying then her dad picked her up holding her. She had speak to her best friend. her dad told her a
Golden Secondary School
A Stranger at Home is based on the life of Margaret Pokiak-Fenton and written from the perspective of her 10-year old self. It is about her experience of returning home two years after being away at a residential school.

Margaret returns to her home in northern Canada a changed girl and faces the challenge of finding her true place in the world. The book is beautifully illustrated with vibrant paintings which portray the emotional and physical landscapes of the story’s characters and
Dorothy Hermary
Jul 25, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: cultural, indigenous
Similar to Fatty Legs, this book includes photos and illustrations and seems more like a children's book (I would suggest about grade 6). It could definitely be used in the school curriculum to teach about Canadian history, the residential school system, and the emotional damage from being separated from family for long periods of time and then trying to re-assimilate into family and community with a different language and different beliefs. This true story portrays the strength of character nee ...more
Apr 23, 2018 rated it liked it
I liked this story but it was not as good as the first book Fatty Legs which is a story of the residential school that Margaret went to.A stranger at home is the sequel when Margaret comes home from the residential school after two years and the family situation that she encounters.This is a sad story of what Inuit children had to endure in these so called Christian schools run by nuns and priests.This is a story that all people who are not Inuit should be reading so that they might get a small ...more
Apr 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This is a powerful book about the immediate impact of residential schooling. Upon returning home, Olemaun feels like a stranger and is treated like an outsider. It was difficult for me to read about her struggles and difficulties with daily life. I think this is a must read for anyone who works with Native children, especially those in the arctic. Many teachers would benefit from reading this and gaining a stronger understanding of the dark history of “education” in Native communities.
Dec 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This is a follow up to Fatty Legs and just as good. Margaret comes home from the outsider school and is somewhat shunned by her neighbors. She no longer speaks the Inuit language. She can't swallow the food she used to love and the outsider shoes feel better on her feet than her old boots. This is a wonderful companion to Fatty Legs. Both books would make a great read for ELL students.
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Christy Jordan-Fenton was born on a farm in rural Alberta. Her only dreams were to be a cowgirl, to dance with Gene Kelly and to write stories. As a youngster, she barrel-raced, rode on cattle drives, witnessed dozens of brandings, and often woke up on early spring mornings to find lambs, calves, and foals taking refuge in the bathroom.

Her parents divorced when she was seven, and she m