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Department of French engages Innu author from northern Québec

Photo of author Michel Jean
Photo credit: Hugo-Sébastien Aubert, La Presse

January 18, 2023

During autumn quarter 2022, Hedwige Meyer, teaching professor of French, brought Michel Jean, author of the award-winning novel, Kukum, to her FRENCH 301: Language in the Francophone World course via Zoom. The students read Kukum prior to the visit by the author. The 90-minute meeting allowed the students to deepen their understanding of the book and the Innu culture. Michel Jean graciously took the time to answer each student’s question in great detail conducting his remarks in French. The novel Kukum had a significant impact on the students as they learned about the traditional way of life of the Innu people and the forced sedentarization and cultural genocide they endured.

Meeting with Michel Jean was a magic and unforgettable moment for the class. As one student put it, “Kukum was a wonderful selection! A moving story, so well written that I lived Almanda’s life, felt and saw what she felt and saw. The crowning activity: meeting the author. A rare privilege! Thank you for organizing this. Really a brilliant idea!”

Michel Jean is a Canadian television journalist and author of Innu origin. Kukum, a novel based on the life of Jean’s Innu great-grandmother, won the Prix France-Québec in 2020 and additional awards since.

The author visit was part of a Rendez-Vous littéraire activity organized by the Centre de la Francophonie des Amériques.