INUVALIUT OLEMAUN (MARGARET POKIAK-FENTON) BORN—CHILDRENS’ BOOKS AUTHOR
Born on Baillie Island, Northwest Territories, Margaret’s name meant “Stone that sharpens an ulu knife.” Ate age 8, she left a migratory life to attend residential school in Aklavik wanting to learn how to read. She did not see her parents for 2 years and forgot her culture & language. After marrying, she moved from Tuktoyaktuk to Fort St. John, British Columbia, where she was known for beadwork & embroidery. From 2010-14, she & daughter-in-law, Christy Jordan-Fenton, wrote 4 illustrated children’s books–Fatty Legs (2010), A Stranger at Home (2011), When I Was Eight (2013), and Not My Girl (2014)—relating the horrors of residential schools & loss of culture, but also of resiliency & cultural recovery. Awards include: Globe and Mail’s Ten Best Children’s Books of the Year (Fatty Legs). She was short-listed for the da Vinci Eye, Eric Hoffer, Sheila A. Egoff, and Christie Harris prizes. Pokiak-Fenton began using her birth name again at age 80 and received a traditional tattoo of a caribou at age 81. She died on April 21, 2021.
Sources: “Margaret Fenton,” Hamres Funeral Chapel & Cremation Center. Retrieved 11/15/2021, Obituary for Margaret Fenton | Hamres Funeral Chapel & Cremation Center Wikipedia Map: Geo Swan, 3/2009. Inuvialuit communities. Permissive Use.