Norma Dunning began writing the titular story in her collection, Annie Muktuk and Other Stories, because she was angry. After reading an anthropologist’s characterization of the country’s Arctic region, she felt his depiction of Inuit women commodified them, and, as an Inuit woman herself, she wanted her writing to take control of her own agency and sexuality.
The 16 stories in this collection deal with the violence and legacy of colonization—particularly the lasting effect of residential schools—as characters wrestle with finding and re-discovering their identities outside of it. One character reflects in the story, “Kabloona Red,” “Eskimo, now that’s a word. White word. White word for white people to wrap around their pink tongues.” Dunning has always written throughout her life, but she used to put her stories away in a drawer, worried that her words would be colonized or rewritten in a Western way. After encouragement from her professors at the University of Alberta for her work, she began sharing her stories and received several prizes and honours for them.
A scholar and researcher, Dunning explores her Inuit identity in her writing, as it’s greatly influenced by their traditional ways of knowing and being. Although she deals with serious contemporary realities for Inuit people, she manages to work in moments of humour that flesh out her characters, making them fully realized and complex. Filled with twists and honesty, this incredible collection will challenge your perceptions of Inuit people and their experiences.