June is Indigenous History Month in Canada.
To mark this important time, the Office of Indigenous Affairs is challenging members of the Memorial community to commit to reading an Indigenous memoir.
Indigenous memoirs published by Memorial University Press have been posted to the university’s social channels and you can also find them below.
Authors and titles
Paulus Maggo, Remembering the Years of My Life (April 1999)
At the age of 83, Paulus Maggo, a highly respected Inuit elder residing in Nain on the northern Labrador Coast, began narrating his experiences; from a child riding on his father’s kayak to a senior citizen watching TV programs beamed by satellite to the community. His reflections provide a rare insight into the Inuit lifestyle, social relationships and influences causing change in Aboriginal society during the 20th century.
Remembering the Years of My Life is the story of a man with compelling dignity and wisdom and is a testament to Inuit ingenuity, co-operation and self-governance that existed prior to the union of Newfoundland and Labrador with Canada in 1949.
An authoritative introduction traces the genealogies of Paulus Maggo and his late wife, Naeme, to the 18th century and places his personal life history in the broader context of Labrador history.
Louie Montague, I Never Knowed it Was Hard (April 2013)
I Never Knowed It Was Hard, the memoirs of Naskaupi River trapper and fiddler Louie Montague, a 77-year-old Nunatsiavut (Inuit) elder from North West River, Labrador, recounts in rich detail the way of life in “them days.” Louie Montague has travelled Labrador extensively as a trapper, hunter, prospector and guide, and as an employee of the provincial forestry and wildlife departments.
His remarkable memory and unique understanding of nature, acquired by study and first-hand experience, is complemented by his being an avid reader who constantly seeks more knowledge of Labrador and Arctic history.
Here, he talks about his family, trapping, hunting, caring for sled dogs, encounters with Innu in the country, woodworking and, most importantly, life on the Naskaupi River, especially as this has been impacted since the damming of its source for the Upper Churchill project in the 1970s.
While Louie Montague’s story tells about and draws from the past — his great-grandfather Montague came to Labrador from the Orkney Islands in the 19th century — he is very much a man of the present. He still goes to the land whenever he can; he remains busy as an accomplished craftsman; and he is deeply aware of how changes to the land have affected the present and will impact the future.
He also describes the changes in life with the coming of the Goose Bay Air Base in the 1940s and his jobs there and elsewhere over the years.
John Nick Jeddore, Moccasin Tracks (July 2015)
The remarkable memoirs of Mi’kmaw Elder John Nick Jeddore, who recounts a lifetime of following in his ancestors’ footsteps, is the winner of the Peter Cashin Prize 2016.
John Nick Jeddore’s richly detailed memoir begins when he was a boy in the 1920s and 1930s.
His historical account makes a major contribution to our understanding of life “on the country” and in Conne River, Bay D’Espoir, as well as what it was like to be confined to a tuberculosis sanatorium and to serve overseas in the Forestry Service during the Second World War.
John Nick Jeddore recounts a lifetime of following in his ancestors’ footsteps and reflects on his attempts to reconcile that heritage with a changing social and cultural world.
His book will serve as an important legacy for many generations of scholars and general readers.
Calvin White, One Man’s Journey (June 2023)
With a story spanning more than 70 years of the life of respected Elder Calvin White, One Man’s Journey weaves his personal history with his account of the Mi’kmaw movement and his role in the reclamation and restoration of pride in Mi’kmaw culture in Newfoundland.
Elder Calvin White’s journey began in the forests surrounding his home of Flat Bay, where he learned to fish, hunt and gather from a group of respected mentors who influenced and inspired him.
His story recounts how the lessons learned from these valuable moments fuelled his later work to spearhead the Mi’kmaw movement throughout the island of Newfoundland, amid the fight for recognition by the provincial and federal governments.
His words do not shy away from the prejudice and discrimination faced by his people, and they provide a personal account of the history, responsibilities, philosophy and worldview of his community.
One Man’s Journey is a personal and critical look at the processes that have led to the recognition of Mi’kmaw people in Newfoundland. The book shares knowledge and history with a new generation so they can continue the movement to which Elder Calvin White has been so instrumental.
National Indigenous History Month is a time to recognize the rich history, heritage, resilience and diversity of First Nations, Inuit and Métis.