Way Back Then

Written by: Neil Christopher

Illustrated by: Germaine Arnaktauyok

For ages: 3 years and up

Language: Inuktitut & English, pronunciation guide included. 

Topics Covered: First Nations, Indigenous Voices, Folklore, Culture & Traditions, 

Summary: Kudlu’s children cannot sleep.  They beg him for stories about olden times, when there was magic and the mountains were made of giants.  Kudlu tells his children of a fox and a raven.  They each wanted something different from the sky-the fox wanted a dark sky and the raven wanted a bright one.  The two could never agree, so that’s why we have night and day! Kudlu’s children and the reader learn why there are caribou, a goose-woman, and a time when the earth helped Inuit numbers grow by giving birth to children.

Each folktale Kudlu tells his children starts with “Way back then…” and they are short, taking up just half a page.  The book setup has a beautiful illustration on one page, and the story in both languages on the opposite.  They are fantastical tales and fun for children to imagine, with giant polar bears and whales bursting out of a woman’s fingers.  This book is an amazing resource for someone unfamiliar with Inuit folklore and history!  Bilingual books are so important, even if the reader isn’t learning the language.  Having exposure to a variety of languages helps with acceptance of others, and the questions naturally built into the story are an awesome resource for reflection.

Reflection Questions:

  • What do you notice about the Inuktitut language?
  • Which was your favorite legend?
  • Which magic power would you like to have?

About the Author & the Illustrator:

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Neil Christopher is an educator, author, and filmmaker. He first moved to the North many years ago to help start a high school program in Resolute Bay, Nunavut. It was those students who first introduced Neil to the mythical inhabitants from Inuit traditional stories. The time spent in Resolute Bay changed the course of Neil’s life. Since that first experience in the Arctic, Nunavut has been the only place he has been able to call home. Neil has worked with many community members to record and preserve traditional Inuit stories. Together with his colleague, Louise Flaherty, and his brother, Danny Christopher, Neil started a small publishing company in Nunavut called Inhabit Media Inc., and has since been working to promote Northern stories and authors.

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Germaine Arnaktauyok is an Inuit artist and illustrator, best known for her prints and etchings depicting Inuit myths and traditional ways of life. In 1999, she designed the special edition two-dollar coin commemorating the founding of the territory of Nunavut. She is the co-author, with Gyu Oh, of My Name Is Arnaktauyok: The Life and Art of Germaine Arnaktauyok. She lives in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories.

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About the publisher, Inhabit Media! Scroll down for English translation.

Inhabit Media Inc. α“―α•—α“ͺᓕᖅᐹᖑα“ͺα“—α“‚ α“΄α–…α‘­α‘Žα•†α“‚α•α’₯α’ƒ ᓇᖕα’₯ᓂᕆᔭᐅα“ͺα“—α“‚ ᑲᒻᐸᓂᐅα”ͺα–… ᑲᓇᑕᐅᑉ ᐅᑭᐅᖅᑕᖅᑐᖓᓂ. α‘α•Œα’α•†α”­α•—α‘¦ ᐃᑲα”ͺᕋᓱᒑᓗᒋᑦ α‘²α”ͺα“―α‘Žα’‹αŠα•α“—α’‹α“ͺα“— ᖃᐅᔨα’ͺᔭᐅα”ͺᑦ ᐱα”ͺᓐᓇᕐᓂᐅα”ͺα“ͺα“— ᐅᑭᐅᖅᑕᖅᑐᕐα’₯ᐅᓂᑦ, ᐃᑲα”ͺᖅᓯᕐᓗᑕᓗ ᖃᐅᔨᓇᓱᖕᓂᕐα’₯α’ƒ ᐃᓄᐃᑦ α…α“‚α’ƒα‘³α–…α‘αŠα–α“α“‚α’ƒ ᓄᓇᕗᒻα’₯ᐅα“ͺα“— ᐃᓄᐃᑦ ᖃᐅᔨα’ͺᔭᑐᖃᖏᓐᓂᒃ (ᓄᓇᕗᒻα’₯ᐅᑦ, ᑲᓇᑕα’₯ αŠα••α’ƒα‘α–…α“―α’ͺα”ͺᑦ α…αŠα–•α“‡α–…αΈα“―α–•α“‚α–…αΉα–“α“ƒα‘¦α‘α–…).  α‘Žα‘Žα•‹α–…α‘Žα‘¦, α…α“‚α’ƒα‘³α–…α‘Žα‘¦, α‘Žα‘Žα•‹α…α”­α–…α‘Žα“ͺα“— ᐃᓄᐃᑦ ᖃᐅᔨα’ͺᔭᑐᖃᖏᓐᓂᒃ ᐆᒻα’ͺα–…α‘Žα‘Žα“²α–‘α•—α‘¦ α…α–ƒα“•α’«α–…α‘Žα“„α‘¦ ᑭᒃᑯᑐᐃᓐᓇᕐᓄᑦ ᐃᓕᓴᕐᓇᖅᑐᓂᒃ ᖃᐅᔨᒋᐅᖅᑕᐅα”ͺα“‚α’‘α“— ᐃᓄᐃᑦ ᐱᖅᑯᓯᖏᓐᓂᒃ ᐃᓕᖅᑯᓯᖏᓐᓂᒑᓗ.

α‘Žα’₯α™³α–…α‘Žα‘•α…α“šα…α–…α“―α’ͺα•—α–… 2006-α–‘α‘Žα“ͺᓗᒍ, Inhabit Media α±α’‹αŠα–…α‘Žα‘•α…α“šα…α–…α“―α’ͺα•—α–… ᓄᓇᕗᒻα’₯ᐅᑦ ᓄᑕᕋᖏᑦ α‘•α‘―α–ƒα‘¦α‘•α•†αŠα–ƒα•α“‚α–α“α“„α‘¦ ᐱᖅᑯᓯᕐα’₯α“‚α’ƒ ᐅᖃᓕᒫᖅᑕα’₯α–•α“‚ αƒα“•α“α“‚αŠα•α••α–•α“‚. ᐅᑭᐅᑦ ᖁᓕᙳᖅᐳᑦ α±α“•α•†α–ƒα‘Žα–ƒα–…αΈα’ƒα–’α‘• ᐃᓐᓇᕐᓂᒃ α…α“‚α’ƒα‘³α–…α‘αŠα–…α‘Žα“‚α’‘α“— ᑲᓇᑕᐅᑉ α…α‘­α…α–…α‘•α–…α‘α–α‘Žα“•α’«α–α“α“‚ α‘Žα‘Žα•‹α–…αΈα“ͺα“•αŠα“ͺα“—α‘• αŠα”Ύα”¨α’Œα™±α‘¦α‘α“‚α’ƒ α…α“‚α’ƒα‘³α–…α‘αŠα–α‘Žα–α“α“‚α’ƒ ᐳᐃᒍᖅᑕᐅᖁᓇᒋᑦ α‘­α–‘α•šα•†α”­α…α“‚αŠα–…α‘α“„α‘¦.

ᐊα’₯ᓱᑦ α…α“‚α’ƒα‘³α–…α‘αŠα‘¦ α“΄α–…α‘­α‘Žα‘•α•—α‘¦ α‘Žα‘Žα•‹α–…α‘•α…α“šα…α–…α“―α’ͺᙱᑦᑐᑦ, α±α‘•α–ƒαƒα“α“‡α…α”­α–…α‘‘α’α“—αŠα‘¦ ᑕᐃα’ͺᙡᓂᑦ ᑐᓴᖅᑕᐅᒑᖓα’₯α’ƒ α…α“‚α’ƒα‘³α–…α‘•α…α•™α’ƒα–’α‘Žα’ƒ  α‘­α–‘α•šα•‡α“„α‘¦. αƒα“šα–α‘¦ α…α“‚α’ƒα‘³α–…α‘αŠα‘α–„α“˜α’α“—αŠα–…α‘Žα“ͺᓗᒋᑦ, α±α“•α•†α–ƒα‘Žα–ƒα–…αΈα’ƒα³α’α‘¦ ᐃᓐᓇᕐᓂᒃ, ᐃᓄᖕᓂᒑᓗ α‘Žα‘Žα•‹α–…αΈα’ƒα‘α“‚α’ƒ ᒫᓐᓇᕐᓂᓴᕐᓂᒃ, αŠα’»α’ͺ α‘Žα‘Žα•‹α…α”­α–…α‘Žα“‚α’ƒ α“‡α‘­α•ˆα“˜α”­α–… α“―α“šα•α”ͺαŠα•α’₯ᑦ α“΄α–…α‘­α‘Žα‘¦α‘Žα“ͺα“—α‘Žα’ƒ ᑭᒃᑯᑐᐃᓐᓇᕐᓂᑦ ᐅα“ͺα“—α’₯ᐅα”ͺα–… ᑐᑭᓯᔭᐅα”ͺᓐᓇᖅᑐᓂᒃ ᑲᓇᑕα’₯ᐅᓂᑦ ᐊα’₯αŠα“•α‘²α’₯ᐅᓂα“ͺα“—. α…α–ƒα“•α’«α’α“•αŠα•†α•™α’ƒα‘•α•—α‘¦ α‘•α‘―α–…α‘―α”Ύα”¨α‘αƒα“α“‡α•α“—α‘Žα’ƒ ᐃᓄᐃᑦ ᐱᖅᑯᓯᖏᓐᓂᒃ α±α™±α“šα‘¦; ᓇᓗᓇᐃᖅᓯᖕα’₯α”ͺᑦ α‘²α”ͺα“―α‘Žα‘¦α‘Žα“‚α•α’₯α’ƒ ᐃᓄᐃᑦ ᐅᓂᒃᑳᖏᓐᓂᒃ ᖃᐅᔨα’ͺᔭᑐᖃᖏᓐᓂᒑᓗ αŠα“―α…α”¨α”­α…α“‡α”­α–…α‘α’ƒα“΄α…α”ͺᕕᓂᕐᓂᒃ, α…α–ƒα“•α’«α–…α‘Žα“‚α‘¦ ᐱᐅᒋᔭᐅα“ͺα“—α‘Žα’ƒ, α–α••αŠα’‹α”­α…α“ͺα“—α‘Žα’‘α“— αŠα’»α’ͺ ᑐᓴᐅα’ͺα‘Žα‘¦α‘Žα“‚α–ƒα–…αΈα’ƒα³α‘¦.

α“―α•—α“ͺᓕᖅᐹᖑα“ͺα“—α‘• α“΄α–…α‘­α‘Žα•†α“‚α•α’₯α’ƒ ᑲᒻᐸᓂᐅα“ͺα“—α‘• ᓄᓇᕗᒻα’₯, α–α••αŠα“±α’ƒα³α’α‘¦ ᐅᑭᐅᖅᑕᖅᑐᕐα’₯ᐅᑦ ᐅᓂᒃᑳᖏᓐᓂᒃ α“―α“šα‘α“‚α–α“α“‚α’‘α“— α‘•α‘―α–…α‘―α”¨α”­α•†αŠα’ƒα“΄α–… α“―α“šα•α”ͺαŠα•α’₯ᐅᓄᑦ!

Inhabit Media Inc. is the first Inuit-owned, independent publishing company in the Canadian Arctic. We aim to promote and preserve the stories, knowledge, and talent of the Arctic, while also supporting research in Inuit mythology and the traditional Inuit knowledge of Nunavummiut (residents of Nunavut, Canada’s northernmost territory). Our authors, storytellers, and artists bring traditional knowledge to life in a way that is accessible to readers both familiar and unfamiliar with Inuit culture and traditions.

Incorporated in 2006, Inhabit Media was born out of a need for Nunavut kids to see their culture accurately represented in the books they read in schools. We have spent the last ten years working with elders and storytellers from across the Canadian Arctic to ensure that the region’s unique Inuit oral history is recorded and not lost to future generations.

Many of the stories that we publish have never been written down before, having existed for centuries as tales passed orally from generation to generation. While many of these stories are ancient, we work closely with elders, contemporary Inuit writers, and illustrators the world over to present folktales and traditional stories in a format that will resonate with modern audiences across North America. Our books do not simply provide a glimpse into Inuit culture; they also represent the preservation of oral history and traditional knowledge that may otherwise have been lost, in a format that contemporary readers will find engaging, entertaining, and informative.

As the first independent publishing company in Nunavut, we are excited to bring Arctic stories and wisdom to the world!

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