From and to "The Place that Looks Like a Caribou".
November 14, 2017 11:38 AM   Subscribe

A three-metre-tall polar bear stood in the doorway. It walked up to her, put its snowshoe-sized paw on her pregnant belly, and began to speak: ‘If it’s a boy, you name it after me.’ . . . When Alice gave birth to a son two weeks later, she gave him two names. The first was Mangilaluk. The second was Bernard.
A new all-season highway opens tomorrow, which will be the first road to connect Tuktoyaktuk to Inuvik, in Canada's far North. It is already informally being called "Bernard's Highway". Nadim Roberts tells the harrowing life story of Mangilaluk / Bernard.
posted by Rumple (14 comments total) 32 users marked this as a favorite
Thank you for posting this...I was privileged to have Mangilaluk/Bernard as my student many years ago. He shared a little bit of his harrowing residential school past with me, but never this part of it, and I can understand why. When I heard the story on CBC radio several weeks ago, it made me cry. I just can't imagine. I'm so glad he is telling his story and that the highway has been built.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 12:03 PM on November 14, 2017 [17 favorites]

Google map

So vast.
posted by mecran01 at 12:14 PM on November 14, 2017 [3 favorites]

I have a longing to go North - to visit the Territories and see more of my country. Perhaps I will see this road one day.

Thank you for posting this.
posted by twilightlost at 12:42 PM on November 14, 2017 [1 favorite]

My time is scarce these days and I so rarely take the time to read long-form articles, but I found this particular story breathlessly captivating and tragic. My heart broke when I saw young Bernard's precious face in the old newspaper article. I'm so glad he survived to tell his story and the story of so many other young men and women.
posted by chara at 1:05 PM on November 14, 2017

Perhaps I will see this road one day.

The only other road in Canada I am aware of that reaches the Arctic Ocean is the James Bay Road in Quebec, which I travelled in 2016. It is dwarfed by the journey to Inuvik alone.

Take a gas can.
posted by CynicalKnight at 1:30 PM on November 14, 2017 [4 favorites]

Amazing story- thank you for posting.
posted by Secretariat at 1:30 PM on November 14, 2017

I was glad when the story reached the point I could know Bernard survived. Then I was also glad when he survived his adulthood.
posted by Oyéah at 4:02 PM on November 14, 2017 [6 favorites]

“Oh, it’s going to be a total impact, for sure,” Smith said. “We can just hop in a car and come down to Inuvik whenever we want.”

I'd never been able to hear a Canadian accent in text before.
posted by leotrotsky at 4:03 PM on November 14, 2017 [2 favorites]

This story is incredible!
posted by zdravo at 5:11 PM on November 14, 2017

Thanks for the wonderful link!

So vast.

From Tuktoyaktuk (900 people) to the next largest city past Inuvik (3500 people), you have to drive all the way to Whitehorse, which is still only 25,000 people. It's 1365 kilometres, which is about the same distance as New York to Atlanta, or Amsterdam to Budapest.

I have a colleague whose nephew is driving to Tuk right now; it's sort of his Canada 150 thing. He called the highway engineer in the NWT government to find out information, and the engineer was so excited to have somebody want to talk about the road he talked the nephew's ear off.
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 5:20 PM on November 14, 2017 [5 favorites]

To learn about the many, many other children who ran away from the horrendous abuse at residential schools--many died in conditions like those experienced by the boys in this story--one can read Missing Children and Unmarked Burial, Volume 4 of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report. It is grim reading but an important accounting of institutionalized, race-based, government-sanctioned torture of children. At a conservative estimate, 30% of the children who were forced into Canadian residential schools never came home because they died during their time there.

I truly believe residential schools are the greatest shame of my country.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 9:03 PM on November 14, 2017 [8 favorites]

I truly believe residential schools are the greatest shame of my country.

Not only your country...
posted by 43rdAnd9th at 3:11 PM on November 15, 2017 [1 favorite]

As someone who grew up on the Blackfeet rez in NW Montana among so many who still bore the scar of the residential schools and as a long term survivor, this hit me pretty damn hard and close. Thank you for sharing it Rumple.

On further reflection, this is the only time I've ever mentioned my HIV status to anyone but my husband or medical professionals. After this many years and successful medical treatment, why the hell does this still scare/shame me so much? Humans are so odd.
posted by nenequesadilla at 6:38 PM on November 21, 2017 [3 favorites]

Peace be on you, nenequesadilla.
posted by Rumple at 12:00 AM on November 22, 2017 [2 favorites]

« Older Amazon will produce a LoTR TV series   |   “The Last of Us is a series that deserves much... Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments