Running with success
Baffin author's book goes national

Kerry McCluskey
Northern News Services

IQALUIT (Jul 13/98) - Pond Inlet author Carmen Kyak just kind of takes her recent success in stride.

"I was surprised and happy...but if I had known it was going to go around everywhere, I probably wouldn't have been able to write it," laughs Kyak during summer break from her teaching job in her Baffin Island community.

Kyak says she knew the Baffin Divisional Board of Education was always looking around for Inuktitut books to publish so she decided to send in Isigaujaak (Running shoes), a children's book she wrote and illustrated in 1989.

Upon receiving the book, the board turned it over to a local community group who stepped in, published it in five dialects of Inuktitut, French and English, and shipped it off to educational boards across the North and to other groups in Canada and the United States.

Kyak says she is honored that someone thought enough of her work to adopt it as part of their literacy project, but she had no idea her work would travel so far.

"I wrote it for the children here so they could read in their own language, in Inuktitut," says Kyak who as a teacher, is particularly concerned with the literacy of the children in her community.

She says she thought about the idea of using running shoes because she wanted to write something new.

"I looked at books that had already been published and I tried to write something different. The ones that were there were already good, about hunting and was already done so I decided on running shoes," says the Grade 3 teacher, who wrote the book from the perspective of a child and the adventures he encounters while wearing running shoes.

Even though she thinks of herself as neither a writer nor an artist, there was no question that she would not illustrate her own book.

"Ever since I can remember I've been doodling or scribbling...I don't consider myself an artist."

Because the book is primarily geared towards school children under the age of 13, Kyak hasn't had the opportunity yet to get much feedback on Isigaujaak but she says she just illustrated another book for an Igloolik author and that given the chance, she might just consider writing or drawing again.