Alone in Silence: European Women in the Canadian North by Barbara E. Kelcey

By Barbara E. Kelcey

Kelcey info their struggles with the household realities of establishing a house or dwelling within the opposed stipulations imposed via the geography, in addition to their have to modify the way in which they labored. the wealthy resources left through Christian missionaries offer information of missionary girls stuck up within the zeal in their vocation yet held in the confines of a paternal church. The letters and reviews of the gray Nuns who labored along the Oblate Fathers within the Mackenzie point out the hardships imposed through their scenario but additionally convey how pushed they have been via their missionary goal. by myself in Silence is the 1st publication to handle the anonymity of ecu ladies within the north. Kelcey attracts from a various box of resources, utilising released and first resources so scattered that there was no prior experience of collective thoughts. by way of giving voice to this overlooked workforce she deals a special point of view at the large literature on existence within the north.

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60 Her presence provided the men she encountered with a “soft” aspect to their harsh environment and a visible link with the wives and families left in the south. She nursed them when they were sick and entertained them when they came to visit. She also taught shorthand to sailors wintering at Herschel in the mission school. QXD 8/10/2001 10:00 AM Page 26 26 alone in silence expected of herself. 61 She saw her place as beside her husband; he was already an Arctic missionary when she married him, and they shared a mutual vocation.

One woman explained that she and her husband had to sleep with the blanket over their heads. Another recalled how every night the bedroom fire had gone out, so she was always frozen when she was alone. QXD 8/10/2001 10:00 AM Page 23 Climate, Communications, and Isolation 23 possible to heat homes with a good stove, and in the Mackenzie Valley wood was available. On the coast, coal was imported as wood was scarce. Of course, heat generated in cozy cabins could cause a nightmarish predicament for anyone already suffering from claustrophobic conditions.

26 Now if Luta Munday had lived in a snowhouse, she would not have removed her furs until she retired for the night, just before she crawled onto the fur-lined sleeping platform with the entire family. But Mrs Munday lived in a heated cabin, which separated her culturally from the Inuit women at Chesterfield Inlet. Although she realized that outside the cabin her life depended on native dress, inside the cabin she needed to retain her own cultural and feminine identity. Luta Munday described native dress as being very similar for men and women, although the women’s kool-le-tang or atigi had a large hood in which to carry infants.

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