Inuit writer to share stories

Inuit author hosts a storytelling session at the Courtenay Library Jan. 27

Michael Arvaarluk Kusugak hosts a storytelling session at the Courtenay Library Jan. 27.

Michael Arvaarluk Kusugak hosts a storytelling session at the Courtenay Library Jan. 27.

When Michael Arvaarluk Kusugak looked at his life in the Canadian north, with its traditional Inuit practices of hunting, fishing and making their way via dogsled, he never quite envisioned himself as a writer.

But, it was the stories of that life, learned throughout his childhood, and a passion to share them with children and families across Canada that drove him to begin penning his tales and has made him a most beloved storyteller from coast to coast.

A gifted and mesmerizing storyteller recreating the ancient and compelling tales of Inuit culture, Kusugak was introduced to the stories by his grandmother. He now weaves these stories with stories of his life, a life of rapid change and adaptation, and his storytelling will transport you to another world.

Kusugak brings those stories, along with a hands-on learning experience of items from the North that children can touch, try on and experience to the Comox Valley this month as a part of Comox Valley Literacy Week celebrations.

Kusugak will be storytelling and introducing local children to Inuit culture with a hands-on mini-exhibition at Ecole Puntledge Park and Arden Elementary.

He will also host a public storytelling session at the Courtenay Library from 11:30 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 27 where children and families of all ages can discover a sense of wonderment and adventure.  The event is free and open to the public

Kusugak’s wife joins him, bringing a variety of items such as an Inuit drum, try on an amouti, look at and touch tools and implements, samples of fur, and clothing like Kaamik, sealskin mitts, duffel socks, crocheted hats, and other items. What’s a Qulliq (stone seal oil lamp)? Look at a scale model of a kayak to see how it is constructed and much more.

Family Literacy Week is a weeklong community celebration of storytelling, art, reading and learning that culminates in Family Literacy Day on Jan. 27.  While Kusugak takes main stage, this year’s celebration also includes local celebrities, art shows, roving storytellers and a chance to explore the community.

Family Literacy Day is a national awareness initiative created by ABC Life Literacy Canada in 1999. This special day promotes the importance of reading and engaging in other literacy-related activities as a family.

Developing early childhood reading and writing skills helps develop the learning skills necessary for good communication skills later in life, and can ultimately contribute to a child’s chances for future success.

For more information about how to get involved in Family Literacy Week 2012, contact Danielle Hoogland at dhoogland@shaw.ca.

— Our Big Earth