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Journal of a Travelling Girl
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Journal of a Travelling Girl
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This fictional coming-of-age story traces a young girl's reluctant journey by canoe through the ancestral lands of the Tłı̨chǫ People, as she gradually comes to understand and appreciate their culture...
This fictional coming-of-age story traces a young girl's reluctant journey by canoe through the ancestral lands of the Tłı̨chǫ People, as she gradually comes to understand and appreciate their culture...
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  • This fictional coming-of-age story traces a young girl's reluctant journey by canoe through the ancestral lands of the Tłı̨chǫ People, as she gradually comes to understand and appreciate their culture and the significance of their fight for self-government.

    "Journal of a Travelling Girl deserves to be in every northern classroom. There is so much to learn here, and there is so much to celebrate." —Richard Van Camp, Tłįchǫ author of The Lesser Blessed and Moccasin Square Gardens

    Eleven-year-old Julia has lived in Wekweètì, NWT, since she was five. Although the people of Wekweètì have always treated her as one of their own, Julia sometimes feels like an outsider, disconnected from the traditions and ancestral roots that are so central to the local culture.

    When Julia sets off on the canoe trip she is happy her best friends, Layla and Alice, will also be there. However, the trip is nothing like she expected. She is afraid of falling off the boat, of bears, and of storms. Layla's grandparents (who Julia calls Grandma and Grandpa) put her to work but won't let her paddle the canoe. While on land Julia would rather goof around with her friends than do chores. Gradually, Grandma and Grandpa show her how to survive on the land and pull her own weight, and share their traditional stories with her. Julia learns to gather wood, cook, clean, and paddle the canoe, becoming more mature and responsible each day. The journey ends at Behchoko, where the historic Tłı̨chǫ Agreement of 2005 is signed, and the Tłı̨chǫ People celebrate their hard-won right to self-government. Julia is there to witness history.

    Inspired by true events, this story was written at the request of John B. Zoe, Chief Negotiator of the Tłı̨chǫ Agreement, as a way of teaching the Tłı̨chǫ youth about that landmark achievement. Journal of a Travelling Girl has been read and endorsed by several Wekweètì community members and Elders. The book will appeal to both Indigenous and non-Indigenous children for its relatable themes of family, loss, coming-of-age, and the struggle to connect with tradition and culture.

About the Author-

  • Born in Montreal of Egyptian and Lebanese descent, Nadine Neema is a multi-disciplinary artist and workshop facilitator. As a recording artist she has released four albums; was mentored by Leonard Cohen; and has opened for artists such as Elton John, Joe Cocker, and Cyndi Lauper. Neema began working with the Tłı̨chǫ in 1999, first as a community manager of Wekweètì, a small isolated Tłı̨chǫ community in the Northwest Territories, then assisting with their land claims and self-government negotiations under Chief Negotiator John B. Zoe. Since the landmark Tłı̨chǫ Agreement in 2005, Neema has maintained a strong bond with the community of Wekweètì and has returned periodically to conduct creativity workshops for the youth and photograph many of their events.

Reviews-

  • Kirkus

    September 15, 2020
    A girl in mourning goes on a healing canoe trip with members of the local Tlı̨chǫ tribe. When Jules' mother moves them to Wekwe�t� in far northern Canada for a job as the community administrator, she is only 5. Six years later, they are still living among the Tlı̨chǫ people, and while Jules, who is White, still occasionally feels like a cultural outsider, she has started to think of them as family. When her friend Layla's grandparents invite her on a long and politically significant canoe trip, she is frightened. But her mother, knowing how sad she is about the death of the beloved Tlı̨chǫ elder Jules called Uncle Joe, insists that she go. Along the way she will witness her tribal friends in their Christian-Indigenous practices, their pride in their history, and their knowledge of the outdoors. She will gather wood, camp, portage, and paddle her way to deeper maturity and an understanding of the land, feeling the spirit of the ancestors draw her closer to nature and the meaning of the trip. Based on the 2005 signing of the Tlı̨chǫ Agreement, an event that was witnessed by the author, the book was written with tribal approval. (Like Jules' mom, the author is not Tlı̨chǫ but worked for and lived with the band for some years.) It reads like a sincere effort to record their victory for the right to self-govern. The black-and-white illustrations by Beaverho (Tlı̨chǫ Dene) capture the river and forest well, but the human faces feel a bit cartoonish. Of greatest interest to kids who love stories set in the outdoors and Indigenous histories. (Fiction. 8-12)

    COPYRIGHT(2020) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • School Library Journal

    September 25, 2020

    Gr 3-6-This book, by Canadian author Neema about the Tlıcho people in Northwest Territory, Canada, begins with a foreword by a Tlıcho elder saying, "We welcome this story." The story follows the journey of Julia as she travels with a group via canoe from where she lives in Wekweeti to where the Tlıcho Agreement of 2005 is signed and celebrated. Eleven-year-old Julia, who is white, has lived in Wekweeti for several years since her mother works for the community. She and her mother have gotten close to many of the Tlıcho in the time they have lived there, and Julia struggles with feeling like an outsider among people she has come to view as family. Initially, Julia doesn't want to go on the trip, but as the 10-day journey progresses, she grows in her ability to contribute to the work of the canoe trip and her connection to the historic significance of the event. Going from not wanting to go on the trip at all to expressing gratitude to being able to witness history might not be a typical 11-year-old experience, but the earnest, if occasionally silted, narration makes an impression of the significance of the moment in time. Black-and-white illustrations by Tlıcho Dene artist Beaverho add to the book's sense of place. VERDICT Readers interested in Tlıcho culture or Canadian history will find much to appreciate.-Mindy Rhiger, Hennepin County Lib., MN

    Copyright 2020 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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