The third in a series of author interviews by guest blogger Megan Shapka. This will probably be the last one, in spite of how much she’s enjoyed the conversations, because somehow we have run out of time with the festival just days away. Thank you Megan, and thank you to the authors for sharing their talents with us all.
“There’s something really special about picking up a book to read a true story, particularly a true story with positive messages. In two books, “Fatty Legs” and “A Stranger at Home,” co-authors Christy Jordan-Fenton and Margaret Pokiak-Fenton share Margaret’s experiences as a child in a residential school in the North and her return home after her studies. While many stories about residential schools are sad and disturbing, Margaret’s is filled with triumph. When Margaret told her daughter-in-law the story of being called Fatty Legs at the school, Christy knew it was a story that needed to be shared and she was excited that it was one that could be told to young children. “I got instant goose bumps,” she says.
Margaret’s story helps children learn about the history of residential schools, while remaining relatable to their own lives and acting as a guide for navigating tough times. Christy says both books share the story of the First Peoples of Canada, but also include many universal messages that speak to all children. “In ‘Fatty Legs’ there are lessons about being tenacious in the face of resistance, of following your dreams, and of keeping your spirit strong when the world tries to break you,” she says. “In ‘A Stranger at Home’ there are messages about not forgetting who you are, of being proud of where you come from, and of staying connected to your community even after you have ventured far from what you know.”
These award-winning books are popular with both children and their parents. Christy says they filled a gap where few resources existed before, but it’s the messages in Margaret’s stories that make them stand out. “They appeal to everyone who has ever been bullied, or had someone stand in the way of something they really wanted, or felt lost and didn’t know how to fit in.”
“This has been so wonderful because it has aided me in helping my children better understand their grandmother and their cultural roots,” she says. “But the greatest part of the journey has been seeing the transformation in Margaret. She has gone from a quiet farm wife and grandmother to a confident woman who can take a stage and share some of her most painful experiences in a positive and enlightening way with hundreds of strangers at a time.”
Christy and Margaret will be at The Word On The Street in Lethbridge this weekend sharing “Fatty Legs” and “A Stranger At Home.” They may even share a bit from “When I Was Eight,” which is the third, soon to be released, book documenting Margaret’s story. Margaret will also be sharing some her personal photographs and stories not included in the books. The books are also featured in a music video for the song “Say Your Name” by Keith Secola; so be sure to check that out too when you stop by to say hi to Christy and Margaret on Sunday! “
Megan Shapka is a freelance writer and editor with a background in journalism and post-secondary education support. Megan provides professional and efficient writing and editing services, meeting the needs of customers in diverse industries, genres and styles. Many of her contracts are with Lethbridge College, where she writes and edits online curriculum and writes for Wider Horizons magazine. Megan has edited books for self-published authors and is writing two books. Contact her at http://www.meganshapka.com/