This two part webinar series is about the book Fatty Legs, which includes meeting the author of the book and her mother-in-law (whom the book is about) and a teacher who has used the book with her grade seven classroom. You will learn about the origin of the book and how it can be used to support student learning about the topic of residential schools.
The topic of residential schools can be a sensitive topic in First Nations, Métis and Inuit people. Teachers interested in using Fatty Legs with their students need to be aware of the local context with regards to residential schools. As a background to the issue of residential schools, you are encouraged to read the article, They Came For The Children – The Truth & Reconciliation Commission Of Canada.
Christy Jordan-Fenton is an award winning author who writes about her mother-in-law’s residential school experiences, as well as her own experiences as the child of a residential school survivor. She was born in Rimbey, Alberta, but has lived in the US, Australia, and South Africa, attended a military university, taught wilderness survival and rode bucking horses. However, her greatest adventure has been as the mother of three. She is passionate about fostering perspectives of decolonized thought that focus on resilience, reclaiming cultural identity, healing through stories and how to put reconciliation into meaningful action. She is devoted to traditional ceremonial practices, and is a land defender who actively participated in the Rocky Mountain Fort Camp to halt the Site C Dam project.
Margaret Pokiak-Fenton is the best known as the indomitable subject of four award winning children’s books about her time at residential school in the 1940s. She was born on Baille Island in the Arctic Ocean, en route with her nomadic family to their winter hunting grounds on Banks Island. Being Inuvialuit, her young childhood was filled with hunting trips by dogsled and dangerous treks across the Arctic Ocean for supplies, in a schooner known as the North Star. At the age of eight, she travelled to Aklavik, a fur trading settlement founded by her great-grandfather, to attend the Catholic residential school there. Unlike most children, she begged to go to the residential school, despite the horrific reputation of such institutions. There was nothing she wanted more than to learn how to read. In her early twenties, while working for the Hudson’s Bay Company in Tuktoyaktuk, she met her husband-to-be, Lyle, and followed him south to Fort St John, BC to become a cowboy’s wife. Together, they raised eight children. Margaret is very active speaking across Canada, sharing stories of resilience, the path to reclaiming cultural identity, surviving residential school, resilience and traditional Inuvialuit culture. Her stories have been adapted to theatrical presentations, and she is featured in Keith Secola’s music video for Say Your Name. At 80, Margaret remains lively and inspiring, and is a proud language keeper.
Part One: Meet the author of Fatty Legs
Fatty Legs is a children’s book written about the residential school experience of the author’s mother in law, Margaret Pokiak–Fenton. In this webinar, you will meet the author, Chirsty Jordan–Fenton as she discusses how she came to write this book. You will also meet the subject of the book, Margaret Pokiak–Fenton. In addition to meeting these two ladies, Christy will introduce you to the Annick Press online resources developed to support the book. Finally, Christy and Margaret will talk about the sequel to the book, A Stranger at Home, which tells the story of Margaret’s return to her home following her residential school experience. Time is allocated to ask questions of both Christy and Margaret.
Part Two: Using Fatty Legs in your classroom
Meet Kerry Aiken, a teacher at Summitview School in Grande Cache, who has used Fatty Legs as part of her grade seven social studies classroom. Kerry will talk about how she has used Fatty Legs with her grade seven students. She will lead you through exploration of the imagery and language in Fatty Legs. Kerry has developed a novel study appropriate for use with upper elementary and lower junior high students.
Fatty Legs Imagery & Extensions
Chapter Questions Key
Literature Circle Handouts
Resources to Generate Student Interest
Resources developed by Annick Press
Fatty Legs Book Interactive Book Talk – AnnickPress
Fatty Legs Podcast – Audio interview with the authors
Interviews with the Authors
Interview with the Authors – Shaw TV (2014)
Interview with the Authors – Shaw TV (2015)
Residential school memoir set to become new Canadian children’s classic – CBC audio clip and article (CBC 2016)
Seven Generations of Healing – Conversation with Christy Jordan-Fenton about the lasting effects of the residential school system (Amnesty International 2016)
Say Your Name – from Keith Secola’s LIFE IS GRAND album, featuring the artwork of Liz Amini-Holmes from the books FATTY LEGS (Annick Press 2010) and A STRANGER AT HOME (Annick Press 2011) about residential school survivor Margert Pokiak-Fenton, written by Christy Jordan-Fenton
Resources for Older Students
Where the Spirit Lives – The movie that Christy watched in grade 7, where she first heard about residential schools and began wanting to know more.
Resources to Support a Book Study
JOIN US A Resource Guide for Fatty Legs – National Reading Campaign
Olemaun Paper Doll Exercise – This activity will immerse students in the experience of residential school children through a visual exercise to increase their empathy and understanding.
Books to Compliment Fatty Legs
Proud to Be Inuvialuit – Co-written by Margaret’s brother. It explores Inuvialuit culture in a contemporary, yet traditional context. Important not only as a cultural resource, but also as an illustration that Indigenous peoples are still here and still practicing traditional culture.
The Inuit Thought of It and The Native Americans Thought of It
The books explore Inuit and Native American technology still used today. This is important because people often justify residential school or colonization by explaining that the settlers were more advanced. Looking at the inventions portrayed in allows students to understand a different perspective.
Arctic Stories – Contains some stories from the Eastern Arctic experience.
Resources to Put Reconciliation into Action
*** The authors will do free Skype videos for any class involved with either of these projects or who write letters to parliament to ask for equitable schooling for all children in Canada***
Shannen’s Dream – Learn why reconciliation has a long way to go and how children across Canada still don’t have schools and must leave the reserve, including in our community.
Heartspeak Shannen’s Dream
Project of Heart – Inquiry based, hands-on, collaborative, inter-generational, artistic journey of seeking the truth about the history of Aboriginal people in Canada. Its purpose is to examine the history and legacy of Indian Residential Schools in Canada and to seek the truth about that history, leading to the acknowledgement of the extent of loss to former students, their families and communities.
Resources to Support Choosing Appropriate Literature
American Indians in Children’s Literature Blog – Established in 2006, American Indians in Children’s Literature (AICL) provides critical perspectives and analysis of indigenous peoples in children’s and young adult books. They are also on Facebook. Their process for recommending books is very stringent.