True North Rising
My Fifty-Year Journey With the Inuit and Dene Leaders Who Transformed Canada's North
EnglishRandom House Canada
In this captivating memoir, Whit Fraser weaves scenes from more than fifty years of reporting and living in the North with fascinating portraits of the Dene and Inuit activists who successfully overturned the colonial order and politically reshaped Canada—including his wife, Mary Simon, Canada’s first Indigenous governor-general.
In True North Rising, Whit Fraser delivers a smart, touching and astute living history of five decades that transformed the North, a span he witnessed first as a longtime CBC reporter and then through his friendships and his work with Dene and Inuit activists and leaders. Whit had a front-row seat at the MacKenzie Valley Pipeline inquiry, the constitutional conferences and the land-claims negotiations that successfully reshaped the North; he’s also travelled to every village and town from Labrador to Alaska.
His vivid portraits of groundbreakers such as Abe Okpik, Jose Kusugak, Stephen Kakfwi, Marie Wilson, John Amagoalik, Tagak Curley, and his own wife, Mary Simon, bring home their truly historic achievements, but they also give us a privileged glimpse of who they are, and who Whit Fraser is. He may have begun as a know-nothing reporter from the south, but he soon fell in love with the North, and his memoir is a testament to more than fifty years of commitment to its people.
National Bestseller – The Globe and Mail
Winner – NWT Northwords Book Prize
"This is a huge embrace of a book, irresistible on every level. Whit Fraser brings an uncanny feel for what truly matters to the telling of his own life as it plays into the unfolding saga of the Canadian North. True North Rising is really a deeply moving love story—for a place, a certain woman, a family of friends and colleagues, and a set of principles and aspirations. I couldn’t put it down."
"They say the Far North gets in your blood - and it's absolutely true. Whit Fraser's True North Rising is like a welcome transfusion for those of us who can never get enough of it. For half a century [Whit Fraser] has been Canada’s “Northern Storyteller,” a tough and elegant reporter, at times an activist, and always, always one who believed in the Far North, its people, and its vital importance to Canada and the world."
“Totally absorbing...True North Rising is by far the best book I’ve read about the peoples of the North and the steady drumbeat of their demand for autonomy. Fraser’s love and admiration for the various characters shines through the writing.”
WHIT FRASER went north to Frobisher Bay (now Iqaluit, Nunavut) in 1967 to work for CBC’s Northern Service. Since then he’s travelled to every community in Canada’s three northern territories. For CBC he covered the historic events that shaped today’s North, including the Mackenzie Valley Pipeline Inquiry, the negotiations that enshrined Indigenous rights in the Canadian constitution, and the progress of land claims, from the initial demands of Dene and Inuit leaders through to the ceremony that inaugurated the new territory of Nunavut in 1999, which he co-hosted on the Inuit Broadcasting Corporation. Moving south for a stretch, Fraser became the prime-time anchor for CBC Newsworld when it debuted in 1989. After he left broadcast journalism, Whit also served as the first chairman of the Canadian Polar Commission and as the executive director of the national Inuit organization, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami. He is married to Canada’s first Indigenous governor general, Mary Simon.
His memoir, True North Rising, won the NWT Northwords Book Prize in 2019. Nunavut’s paper of record, Nunatsiaq News, called it a “must-read for anyone interested in northern Canada.