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The comforting power of Christianity: Genevieve Aupidlak's correspondence with Father A. Thibert (OMI) in the Brandon Sanatorium (1954–1957)

  • Frédéric B. Laugrand (a1)

In 2010, after many interviews by the Qikiqtani Truth Commission (QTC), the Qikiqtani Inuit Association released a report to help the public understand the impact of tuberculosis on the Inuit and thereby promote reconciliation, a goal shared by this study. In this paper, I discuss a corpus of about 28 letters by an Inuit patient named Genevieve Aupidlak who was treated at the Brandon Sanatorium from 1954 to 1957. The letters have been transcribed from old syllabics and translated. Aupidlak's story shows not only the suffering of Inuit in southern sanatoria but also the role of Christianity and that of some missionaries—such as Father Thibert—in supporting Inuit resilience. Aupidlak's letters illustrate how Inuit used their Christian faith to survive and how they ascribed healing power to Christian prayer and confession, in keeping with a much older shamanic pattern.

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Archives Deschâtelets. (n.d.). AD/HF 191, Correspondence of Genevieve Aupidlak, deceased May 10, 1957 at Brandon, Ontario. AD/Notes from A. Thibert, HF 191 T42L 27. Ottawa, ON: Archives Deschâtelets.
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Polar Record
  • ISSN: 0032-2474
  • EISSN: 1475-3057
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