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Indigenous Reads book club panel discusses Kuessipan

Kuessipan is an intimate look into the world of the Innu people of northeastern Quebec. Naomi Fontaine was just 23 years old when she wrote this novel in French. It was translated into English by David Homel.
Kuessipan is the first novel by Innu writer Naomi Fontaine. (Arsenal Pulp Press)

Our latest Indigenous Reads book choice is Kuessipan by Naomi Fontaine who was just 23 years old when she wrote this novel in French. It was translated into English by David Homel.


Kuessipan in Innu means "your move" or "your turn." Part prose, part poetry, Kuessipan is an intimate look into the world of the Innu people of northeastern Quebec. We selected Kuessipan because it takes us to a place in Canada that has not often been represented in literature.

Gregory Scofield (Supplied)
"Each page of the book seemed like a poem itself. Her incredible vision and the descriptive imagery she has been able to bring forth in the story of her community and her own personal story and the story of the land. Each page was just so incredibly vivid. If I had to describe them I would say that there were very much like poetic snapshots." Gregory Scofield, a Red River Metis with Cree ancestry, his most recent book of poetry is called Witness, I am.

Janet Rogers (Blaire Russell)
"She is giving human characteristics to inanimate objects. She keeps talking about the relationship between the people, and the places, and the objects, and the songs, and the bodies of water and so on and so forth. To me this makes the clear distinction that this is Indigenous writing, without question. This is an inside job. She is in and of the subject she is writing about." Janet Rogers, Mohawk Tuscarora, her latest poetry collection is called Totem Poles and Railroads.

Jade Harper (Krista Anderson)
"I opened the book and I immediately felt a sense of shared experience. So with every flip of the page, with everything that I read, I was able to connect it to either something that I had experienced growing up, spending time on the reserve or even just being in the city and spending time with my family. It was very emotional and yet super funny. I found myself almost in tears at some points and then actually in tears from laughing." Jade Harper, Métis, is the owner of Spirit Fusion Yoga and a Native Studies student at the University of Manitoba.

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