The cover of a new atlas created by Indigenous people in Canada. (Submitted photo by Canadian Geographic)
A new book tells the story of three Indigenous groups in Canada in their own words.
“It’s the first of its kind,” said freelance journalist Ossie Michelin, who edited the Inuit section in the glossy, hardcover.
“There’s never been an atlas like this.”
The Indigenous Peoples Atlas of Canada is a four-volume set that hits store shelves September 20.
It was published by Canadian Geographic with input and funding from national Indigenous lobby groups: Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (ITK), Assembly of First Nations (AFN), Métis National Council (MNC) and the government of Canada.
“The organizations helped spread the word of the atlas and encouraged their members to participate,” Michelin said.
“These are the folks who knew these subjects best.”
Michelin says it’s a compilation of everything from the past to the present within Indigenous homelands and nations.
“There are no provincial or territorial borders; no settler names, no settler boundaries,” he said.
So it gives a view of Canada from a truly Indigenous perspective.
“First Nations, Inuit, Métis people can look in this book and see themselves reflected in it.”
Michelin said the set is also “a great educational tool” for settlers or non-Indigenous people, with charts, graphs and lesson plans.
Each volume of the four-book set is dedicated to one of the three cultures, with the remaining book a collection of maps and information on Indigenous languages, and an online interactive component.
“Wherever possible we used the voice of (an Indigenous person),” he said. “When that wasn’t available we went with a researcher or scientist working directly with Indigenous groups.”
Michelin, an Inuk from North West River, Labrador and the son of a trapper, said that makes the atlas authentic and original.
“It’s really powerful,” he said of the unique spin on communities, treaties and land.
“Hopefully this will inspire Indigenous and non-Indigenous people to become interested in geography and learn about these important cultures.”