Uapikun Has A Question (Uapikun kukuetshitshemu)

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A new resource to teach children how to be safe around dogs has been developed for use in First Nations communities of the Labrador region of Canada.

The book is the product of a collaboration between Dr. Hugh Whitney (retired Chief Veterinary Officer of Newfoundland and Labrador ), the Labrador Institute (Memorial University) and a larger initiative to provide printed materials in the Innu language.

In the story, Uapikun is an inquisitive young girl from the Innu community of Sheshatshiu in central Labrador. She lives with her nika (mother), nuta (father) and nukem (grandmother), as well as her two dogs Maikan and Shikuan.

After school ends for the year, she takes the coastal boat with her nuta to the northern Labrador community of Natuashish, where her nuta was born. On the way, she is constantly asking her nuta questions, from where she will sleep to why icebergs float. Though she is used to the dogs in her hometown, she is anxious about meeting the new ones of Natuashish that she doesn't know and who don't know her. This gives her nukumish (uncle) an opportunity to teach Uapikun and her cousin how to be safe around dogs and how it is that dogs came to live with the Innu.

Published by the Labrador Institute (Memorial University) and beautifully illustrated by Vivid Communications (St. John's), this elementary school book supports the curriculum needs of Grades 2, 3 and 5 for injury prevention and safety. It is printed in the two dialects of Labrador Innu-aimun (Sheshatshiu and Mushuau), English and French, with adaptations for other languages and regions of Canada, and a video, under discussion. It serves as a companion to the previously published Uapikun Learns About Rabies (Uapikun tshishkutamuakanu aueshish-akushunnu) to help communities live in harmony with their dogs.

For further information on purchasing or adapting this book, or a printable poster, contact Dr. Hugh Whitney (co-author) or Dr. Martha MacDonald (publisher).

Update: December 2018 - New versions of the book are now available or being created in different languages, all with accompanying posters:

  • Labrador - English, French, Sheshatshiu-aimun, Mushuau-aimun and Inuttitut
  • James Bay region (Ontario) - English, French,  Cree-L and Cree-N. (English title: Uapikunuu Learns About Rabies)
  • Northern Quebec (Nunavik) - English, French and Inuktitut (English title: Ulaayu Learns About Rabies)
  • Northwest Territories - English, French and Inuvialuktun. (English title: Tatqiaq Learns About Rabies).