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Camille Fouillard (CA)

Precious Little

Precious Little

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An extraordinary literary fiction debut from an award-winning writer and activist, set in the remote Labrador Innu community of Utshimassits, exploring grief, trauma, unlearning, and healing.

One cold February morning in 1992, Anna receives a phone call, a request to work with the Utshimassiu Innu in Labrador to organize a people's inquiry, a self-examination into a house fire that killed six children. Eager to escape a complicated relationship and afraid to face the grief of losing her father, Anna accepts the invitation. She catches a plane, painfully aware that she doesn't have a clue what a people's inquiry might look like, and heads for Nitassinan.

This world, with its own language and spirits, is where she's told children die because people do not care for the caribou bones. It is a world where an inquiry becomes a gathering of voices. As the community tells its story — elders, men, women, and children — Anna learns to listen deeply to their words, to the land, to the past and the present. Memories knit together to find meaning in a pain that cannot be named. She immerses herself and leans into her own grief. As she bears witness to the fiercely close community and the unexpected, tender, and courageous way they look after each other and carry on, she learns something about our collective need to imagine a future together, no matter how fragile and imperfect.

Inspired by true events, and the Gathering Voices report, of which Fouillard served as editor, Precious Little is a unique enmeshing of the imagination with memories and experiences spanning decades of working and living with the Innu. At its core, it is a journey toward unlearning and unknowing. By turns harrowing and empowering, provocative and enlightening, this novel is a powerful act of reconciliation and resistance in the face of trauma, infused with love, humility, humour and joy.

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Camille Fouillard grew up in St. Lazare, Manitoba, on Treaty 2 lands. She has worked and collaborated with the Labrador Innu for forty years on storytelling and books, protests and activism, facilitation, land rights, social health and education. She served as editor for Gathering Voices-Mamunitau Staianimuanu: The Davis Inlet People's Inquiry (Douglas and McIntyre) and co-edited It's Like the Legend: Innu Women's Voices (Gynergy). She is a winner of the Larry Jackson Writers' Award, as well Newfoundland and Labrador Arts and Letters and Writers' Union of Canada competitions. She lives in St. John's, Newfoundland. This is her first novel.

Support from the Community:

Marjorie Beaucage, Métis elder who worked in Davis Inlet on an environmental assessment research video project:

You. Left. Me. Breathless. Your soul-revealing pictures you paint of the Land the People Anna's father and dreams, all interwoven into the journey, just cut right into me and touched those dark places I lived in my year up there. I don't know whether to love you or hate you for that. All I know is you got it. You got me too. I honor and respect your willingness to be a light warrior and way shower in dark times. There are no answers, only willingness to stand with. To be in it.

Prote Poker, former Grand Chief of the Innu Nation, as well as Chief of the Mushuau Innu First Nation:

I have know Camille for for a long time, she first worked for us, the Innu of of Natuashish, when we decided to do our inquiry the Gathering Voices. She is one of a few that really get to understand the Innu, their stories, their culture and traditions. She is open minded and always took the time to understand the Innu. I fully support her in her projects including her books about the Innu. I read her book and it will help our youth for reference when they study to learn about Innu culture and their history.

Kanani Davis, Director of Administration and Professional Services, Mamu Tshishkutamashutau Innu Education:

This book will make you look at different perspectives and feel like you?re part of the story, whether you're Innu or non-Innu. It?s comical, and so tragic, but also very educational. I think everyone, Innu or not, needs to read this amazing book.

Mary Pia Benuen, Director for Primary Health Services, Sheshatshiu Innu First Nation:

Oh my, when I read the manuscript, it felt so real and I thought I knew the characters right away. I kept thinking to myself, I know this character and just put myself in her, and I could see what is going on once I situated myself with her. This book is a must-read for the Innu. I honestly think it will be enjoyed by my people who are Innu. The dominant society also needs to read this book to understand what is happening to the Innu people and how we have struggled to enjoy life as it happens.

Katnen Benuen, Director, Health Commission, Mushuau Innu First Nation:

I started reading this book and I couldn?t put it down. I could picture everything from an Innu point of view, and at the same time it was surreal to also see it happening from the non-Innu character?s way of seeing the world. It?s like there are two stories happening in the book. It was good to see how the non-Innu experience our world. I really enjoy it. It?s a must read book.

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