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Author Spotlight: Paninnguaq Lind Jensen

Author Spotlight: Paninnguaq Lind Jensen

Another edition of Inhabit Education Books' Author Spotlight is here! We are thrilled to be able to highlight the many talented Indigenous authors and contributors in our catalogue. In these profiles, you’ll learn about each author’s writing process, the inspiration behind their work, and more.

Our newest Author Spotlight features an interview with Paninnguaq Lind Jensen, the author of Talloqut: A Story from West Greenland.

Paninnguaq Lind Jensen is a traditional practitioner of kakiornerit. She loves reading and learning more about Inuit culture and traditions. Paninnguaq wants to tell as many stories as possible and share as much knowledge as she can.

Find out more about Paninnguaq and her work in our interview below!

Author Spotlight: Paninnguaq Lind Jensen

What inspired you to write Talloqut?

Here in the Arctic, a growing number of women are taking back their tunniit. There are many Inuit children who are growing up with mothers, aunts, or grandmothers who have facial markings. This generation will be the carriers of their heritage into the future through their knowledge of tunniit, whether they decide to wear their markings or not. The most important thing is that they know about their heritage. I didn't have the privilege to have access to that kind of knowledge but I promised my daughters that they would. My experience growing up not knowing about my culture and people is what inspired me to write about tunniit. My daughters inspired me as well. I thought it would be right to write about the very first tunniit marking a woman would get as my first story.

Where is your favourite place to write?

I love to write wherever there is a cup of coffee next to me. Unfolding my imagination to the view of the water from my apartment really is something.

What do you hope to teach readers by sharing this story?

Instead of just explaining what our Talloqut is about, I thought it would be important for children to see that there is a backstory and many experiences to gain before being ready for a Talloqut. I wanted to take them through the experiences Arnaaleq is gaining. I also wanted to fill them with the knowledge of skin tanning. I'm hoping that readers (child or adult) will learn something, even just a light curiosity about skin tanning!

What were the challenges of writing this book?

The tricky part about writing this book was writing about skin tanning. I'd never actually tried it and didn't know how! So I contacted a friend, Vera, who lives in Sisimiut and who is an experienced seamstress. She guided me through the process. I am forever grateful for Vera's time and how she made herself available to me. Now I go to a workshop every Monday evening to learn about skin tanning!

Explain why you think representation is important in children's educational resources and literacy in general.

When I was a child, I learned about Inuit mainly through Danish books or educational books from school. I learned that Inuit were people who lived in Greenland a long time ago and that they had their ways of living, but that way of living was extinct. I never questioned my identity before I was an adult and had my first daughter. Then, I started to question what I wanted to pass down to her. Now I know how important it is that we write books about ourselves and our culture. In my research about Tuniit, I read about us through white men's eyes, and the description and understanding of us was not always a good picture. It's important that we are allowed to be proud of who we are and write about our beautiful traditions.

What was your favourite book as a child?

My favourite books as a child were the ones in the Harry Potter series. I guess I could see myself reflected in Harry as he grew up in an environment that didn't resonate with who he really was. I loved that his new world was different from the "normal" world he came from. Through many characters in the books, I gained more confidence in being different from others.

Paninnguaq's debut storybook, Talloqut: A Story from West Greenland, is available now.

Talloqut: A Story from West Greenland
Written by Paninnguaq Lind Jensen
Illustrated by  Michelle Simpson
Ages: 7–9
English Hardcover | $20.95
Inuktitut Paperback | $14.95

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