A nonfiction book.

Nancy Wachowich, in collaboration with Apphia Agalakti Awa, Rhoda Kaukjak Katsak & Sandra Pikujak Katsak

A grandmother, daughter and granddaughter take us on a remarkable journey in which the cycles of life — childhood, adolescence, marriage, birthing and child rearing — are presented against the contrasting experiences of three successive generations. Their memories and reflections give us poignant insight into the history of the people of the new territory of Nunavut.

Apphia Awa, who was born in 1931, experienced the traditional life on the land while Rhoda Katsak, Apphia's daughter, was part of the transitional generation who were sent to government schools. In contrast to both, Sandra Katsak, Rhoda's daughter, has grown up in the settlement of Pond Inlet among the conveniences and tensions of contemporary northern communities — video games and coffee shops but also drugs and alcohol.

During the last years of Apphia's life, Rhoda and Sandra began working to reconnect to their traditional culture and learn the art of making traditional skin clothing. Through the storytelling in Saqiyuq, Apphia, Rhoda and Sandra explore the transformations that have taken place in the lives of the Inuit and chart the struggle of the Inuit to reclaim their traditional practices and integrate them into their lives.

Nancy Wachowich became friends with Rhoda Katsak and her family during the early 1990s and was able to record their stories before Apphia's death in 1996. Saqiyuq will appeal to everyone interested in the Inuit, the North, family bonds and a good story. (From McGill-Queen's University Press)

From the book

Apphia, Rhoda and Sandra recounted their life histories as events and images, linked but not always chronologically ordered. This reflects fundamental differences between stories told (the oral tradition) and stories written down. Each of the three collections of stories in its own way illustrates distinguishing features of oral tradition: a poetic quality, an oscillation between the present and an ever-changing past, and (sometimes bewildering) ellipses of memory. Stories were told and later retold to me within the context of other stories, or in combination with new tales, with different details and emphasis. Properties of time and place changed quickly as memories provoked new thoughts and recollections. Each narrator connected past, present and future in her own way as she tapped into her own distinct ordering systems for events in her life. In one afternoon, for example, Apphia switched from a story about when she was four to a related story that occurred when she was in her twenties and then back again. Rhoda and Sandra made similar shifts.

From Saqiyuq by Nancy Wachowich ©1999. Published by McGill-Queen's University Press.