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Life Among the Qallunaat

4.20  ·  Rating details ·  125 ratings  ·  19 reviews
Life Among the Qallunaat is the story of Mini Aodla Freeman’s experiences growing up in the Inuit communities of James Bay and her journey in the 1950s from her home to the strange land and stranger customs of the Qallunaat, those living south of the Arctic. Her extraordinary story, sometimes humorous and sometimes heartbreaking, illustrates an Inuit woman’s movement betwe ...more
Paperback, 264 pages
Published March 1st 2015 by University of Manitoba Press (first published January 1st 1978)
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Jun 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I absolutely loved this, didn't want it to end. I learned so much about Inuk culture and life in the North. Mini's story of course played a huge part and I appreciated so much the details and nuances of her culture. I never knew! Why do some Westerners think only *they* are the civilized people?
Sep 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing
An honest, simple, and vital memoir of an Inuk woman's experiences during a time of massive transition in Canadian Inuit communities. The editors did a great job at retaining Aodla Freeman's voice. An important yet subtle work that has finally found a readership after its original publication in 1978.
Jul 10, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography, inuit
Interesting, especially the inside views of Inuit attitudes to raising children and respecting elders, how one learns, what one says, how and when. I was intrigued by the references to noises made by parents to express their love to their children. What would they sound like?

Also, the descriptions of quallunaat or white culture from the author's perspective are insightful.

I found the overall structure of the book a bit choppy and repetitive (which is why it took a while to finish), but well wort
Re-edited and reissued by The University of Manitoba Press’s First Voices, First Texts series, bless their hearts. This is a wonderful, highly readable memoir by Aodla Freeman, an Inuit woman born in 1936 in an island community in James Bay in what is now Nunavut, Canada.

She writes about growing up in the North, experiencing the early paternalistic overtures of southern white Canadians (the qallunaat), learning from her family and community, growing up, going to residential school, getting TB a
Nov 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
This turned out to be a truly interesting and informative book. The writing style is simple and straightforward, as is Mini herself, and I have never read a book like this. She was recording history that would sadly disappear all too quickly.
So many things that happened in her life were surprising: among them the fact that she got to learn nursing, and entered a beauty contest - so absolutely foreign to her culture.
I was actually living on Hamilton Mountain in the early 1950’s, just a little g
Dec 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Today I’d like to highlight an Inuit author who has seen a lifetime of change in her own family and in Canada’s Inuit north. If you are not familiar with the Inuit word “qallunaat,” it literally translates as “those who pamper their eyebrows,” but figuratively refers to those who live in the south or in non-Inuit environments.

I have met and come to know many Qallunaat … and learned to be cautious with them. Some are nice and kind, but none want to see or understand my Native culture. Some don’t
Helga Grose
Jul 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Aodla Freeman's telling of what life was like growing up in James Bay, along with her sharing of the culture and traditions that guided her through her formative years, made for a wonderful read.
Mary Arkless
This book was originally published in 1978, but the Canadian government feared what it might say and bought up more than half the copies and hid them in a cellar. It had received glowing reviews, but the lack of books in circulation meant it could not possibly become a best seller. A couple of years later, an official read the book, realized Canada had nothing to fear (no horrible secrets were revealed), and the bunkered copies were allowed into circulation. Canadian literature is the poorer for ...more
Ivan Taylor
Oct 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
This was an excellent book once I got used to Mini's short sentences. I knew Mini when she was working on this book. I was in university in Hamilton Ontario and was dating her daughter. I found the family hard to understand sometimes because often very little was said. There were a lot of very meaningful silences. I knew that Inuit people didn't ask questions very often they just observed and learned that way. But I felt so sorry for Mini during this book because she said she was most often too ...more
Jun 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Loved this book!
THe first 1/4 was a bit slow, but then the rest of the book is great. Both my parents are Inuit, and I knew a lot of this stuff internally but seeing it in writing was really clarifying. It put some of the teaching I got into clear view, like why it's important to keep your living clear because it keeps you clear, and why my mom had certain mannerisms etc. It was also helpful to read as an Inuk among the Qallunaat. I'm so glad they re-printed and re-released this book!
Katie Goulet
Nov 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
At first, I wasn't sure about this book but as I continued reading, I couldn't put it down. I was sad when it ended -I wanted to carry on living with Mini. This is a story of someone who experienced the intense and unforgiving experience of colonization, teetering between the life she has always known in her remote northern home and the life being forced on her by the Qallunaat like an unstoppable freight train.
Amanda Cox
Jan 31, 2020 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book because it gave me new insight into the Inuit way of life and way of thinking about issues in Canada. It was very frank, with happy and sad moments. It jumps around a bit, but is easy to understand once each section gets under way.
Aug 01, 2019 rated it liked it
Autobiographical account of day to day intuit life in the 1950s + observations on first encounter with modern life in Ontario. A very long book, and detailed observations.
Mar 02, 2017 rated it liked it
I had to rewrite this review as I feel I didn't do the book justice.

I feel like "Life Among the Qallunaat" is a must-read book, that it is incredibly important as a piece of Canadian, Inuit and North American cultural history; however, I felt like Mini Aodla Freeman's writing at times made the book a drag. It felt much longer and drab than it was meant to be - my rating is a reflection of that.

I read it from a Qallunaat-living-in-a-modern-Inuit-village point of view. It was interesting to see ho
Feb 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book! I loved hearing the realities behind the nomadic lifestyle of the Inuit people, how at that time things were changing, and how people were coping with those changes. Mini told her life story in excellent episodes spanning from childhood until her move to Ottawa to work as a translator.
Dec 30, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have to say.. the descriptions of her experiences from when she first arrived in Ottawa are incredible! To experience for the first time, an elevator or other modern conveniences we take for-granted! Even restaurants stymied her. She couldn't comprehend that someone would cook what she picked from the list. The culture shock is breathtaking!

It's been a while since i read this, so i can't give a better review other than i LOVED it! I think this is a must read for ALL CANADIANS and other people
Jun 13, 2016 rated it really liked it
This book is a memoir of an Inuit woman (about 19 years old) who was hired to be a translator in Ottawa. She was put on a train and given instructions and then was on her own. Her simple descriptions of her days trying to figure out traffic lights, elevators, escalators and city buses are a fascinating glimpse into a culture I knew very little about.
Apr 04, 2016 rated it it was ok
It was definitely interesting but too much detail about the Inuit way of life.
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