After a bit of a rocky start to my 50 book challenge, I finally finished my first reading of the year. The book I chose was People of the Deer by Farley Mowat. An acclaimed, award winning Canadian author, Mowat writes from a place of both humour and education, with awareness of the “other” foremost in mind.
I fell in love with Mowat’s book, Never Cry Wolf and was excited to read another book of his. I will admit, however, that People of the Deer was a bit hard to get into at first. It wasn’t due to Mowat’s style of writing but rather the subject matter. The entire book recounted stories of Mowats’ two year stint living with the Inuit people of Northern Ontario – a time when he was completely isolated and dependent on his immediate environment. Mowat tells wonderful tales of being welcomed by the Inuit people and uses the majority of the book to paint a detailed picture of the countless hardships of their rocky relationship with the white man. Mowat was very detailed in his retelling of his experiences, including the killing of deer [caribou] so that the native population may survive. (For an animal advocate like me, this visualization was, admittedly, a bit difficult to get through).
Despite my inability to truly “get into” this book, I will say it was extremely eye opening and allowed me to see the hardships of native people from a different perspective. What stood out most for me was Mowat’s explanation of how government intervention usually takes the completely wrong approach. Rather then providing useful aid what manifests instead is a type of assistance that clearly only works for the “white man” which, essentially, provides no long term benefit to the People of the Deer and their life-sustaining connection to the land.
For those who enjoy award winning storytelling and are passionate about the continuing trials and tribulations of Canada’s native population, I would definitely suggest giving People of the Deer a read.
Next up on the book shelf: If Walls Could Talk by Lucy Worsley