by Michel Jean
House of Anansi Press
A Quebec bestseller based on the life of Michel Jean’s great-grandmother that delivers an empathetic portrait of drastic change in an Innu community.
Kukum recounts the story of Almanda Siméon, an orphan raised by her aunt and uncle, who falls in love with a young Innu man despite their cultural differences and goes on to share her life with the Pekuakami Innu community. They accept her as one of their own: Almanda learns their language, how to live a nomadic existence, and begins to break down the barriers imposed on Indigenous women. Unfolding over the course of a century, the novel details the end of traditional ways of life for the Innu, as Almanda and her family face the loss of their land and confinement to reserves, and the enduring violence of residential schools.
Kukum intimately expresses the importance of Innu ancestral values and the need for freedom nomadic peoples feel to this day.
Translated by Susan Ouriou.