Bilingual children’s book honours avalanche dead
“Learning to read and write is a way of healing”
Arriving just in time for Christmas, there’s gift that’s perfect for any child in Nunavik or Nunavut who speaks or is learning how to speak French — or any child who likes a good story.
Les trouvailles d’Adami, written in French and Inuttitut, is intended for children aged five and older.
The book tells the story of little Adami, who left Nunavik to live in a big city in southern Quebec with his mother who is studying to be a nurse.
From his basement apartment window, Adami takes in his new surroundings, but he’s kept indoors by his memories, until one day he runs after a cat.
It’s a simple tale that manages to reach people of any age. At the same time, the book is a testament to all those who perished in the avalanche that tumbled into Kangisualujjuaq on New Year’s Eve in 1999, killing nine people.
The book ends with a touching scene when, in a dream, Atami makes peace with the past and the future:
“At the top of the hill, the inuksuk waved to him. At its feet a giant willow spread its leaves like a huge parasol. And, surprise of surprises, a carpet of red roses covered the rocky soil.
“The young Inuk smiled: yes, that’s where the children are, those who were buried by the avalanche that hit the village.”
Les trouvailles d’Adami is published by les Editions soleil de minuit, a Quebec publishing house that specializes in children’s books on aboriginal or ethnic themes.
Sarah Beaulne, a graduate of Puvirnituq’s Iguarsivik School and who completed her post-secondary studies at the College Marie-Victorin in Montreal, translated the French text into Inuttitut.
The author, Louise-Michelle Sauriol, says she has a passion for the Far North. She visited Kangiqsualujjuaq in 2000, one year after the avalanche, to speak with students at the school about her work as a writer.
In Kangiqsualujjuaq, she met teacher Annie Baron, whose daughter was among the avalanche victims.
In 2003, by chance, in Montreal, Sauriol met a teacher from Kangiqsualujjuaq who told her students still suffered from nightmares as a result of the avalanche that had destroyed their school.
Sauriol decided to write this book to honor the children. “I wanted to end on a note of hope,” she said.
She also wanted to emphasize collaboration between people in the North and people in the South.
In Les trouvailles d’Adami, little Adami also writes about his new experiences in a notebook.
“This was to say, that learning how to read and write is a way of healing. You deal with emotions, that is, by writing.”
The illustrations are by Leanne Franson.
To order Les trouvailles d’Adami, $8.95, visit www.editions-soleildeminuit.com.