By Celeste Trimble and Kristen Suagee-Beauduy
When I Was Eight by Christy Jordan-Fenton and Margaret-Olemaun Pokiak-Fenton (Inuvialuit) tells the true story of Margaret Pokiak-Fenton’s experiences at an Indian Residential School in Aklavik, in what is now known as Canada. Olemaun’s parents do not want her to attend the school away from her home of Banks Island, but Olemaun longs to learn to read like her older sister. When she convinces her parents and begins attending the school, the nuns try to humiliate and shame her in many ways. Margaret-Olemaun was determined to learn to read and prove to the nuns that she was a strong and capable student, and she did.
This picturebook was written with middle to upper elementary students in mind. Margaret-Ouleman’s story was also told in the book for younger readers, Not My Girl, and the books for middle level readers, Fatty Legs and A Stranger at Home.