We are thrilled to announce our next virtual event: A Virtual Birthday Celebration with Inuvialuk elder and author Margaret-Olemaun Pokiak-Fenton. Margaret-Olemaun Pokiak-Fenton is best known as the indomitable subject of four award-winning children’s books about her time at residential school in the 1940s. She is also a traditional language keeper, and she is well known for her beadwork, embroidery, and bannock. We are delighted that she has chosen to celebrate her eighty-fourth birthday with us.


Margaret-Olemaun has a special connection with the museum. She travelled on the schooner the North Star as a child. The North Star is moored in Heritage Harbour. When Margaret-Olemaun was growing up on Banks Island, her family, along with several families and two other schooners, would travel once a year to Aklavik to trade their furs for supplies. Margaret-Olemaun’s father, Bertram worked as a mechanic on the North Star. Margaret-Olemaun will talk about her time on the North Star during the event.Black-and-white photo of the North Star


Margaret-Olemaun will be joined by Christy Jordan-Fenton who co-authored Fatty Legs, the best-selling children’s book about Margaret Olemaun’s experiences in residential school. Fatty Legs recently had its 10th birthday. Fatty Legs, according to Quill & Quire Magazine “presents a unique and enlightening glimpse into the residential school experience and, most importantly, one little girl’s triumph over her oppressors.”


At the age of eight, Margaret-Olemaun 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.

Photo of Margaret in front of the North Star

Margaret-Olemaun in front of the North Star at Heritage Harbour.

At 84, Margaret remains active, speaking across Canada, sharing stories of resilience, the path to reclaiming cultural identity after residential school, and traditional Inuvialuit culture.

This event is a wonderful opportunity to learn about Margeret-Olemaun’s life and her experiences growing up in the Arctic. The virtual celebration will include a story time for children aged 9 and up followed by a question-and-answer period. The event is free but registration is required.