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Two Iqaluit stories of bravery showcased in Canadian Courage

Tales of high food prices and on-the-land peril penned in new book
The front page cover of Canadian Courage. The book features stories from across Canada in the themes of courage in the face of adversity, danger and injustice. Photo courtesy of HarperCollins ᓯᕗᓂᐊᓂ ᒪᒃᐱᖅᑐᒐᖓᓂ ᖄᖓᓂ ᑲᓇᑕᒥ ᓯᕘᕆᓂᖃᙱᑦᑐᓂ. ᐅᖃᓕᒫᒐᖅ ᑕᑯᒃᓴᐅᑎᑦᑎᕗᖅ ᐅᓂᒃᑳᖅᑐᐊᓂ ᑲᓇᑕᓕᒫᒥ ᐅᖃᐅᓯᓕᖕᒥ ᓯᕘᕆᓂᖃᙱᑦᑐᓂ ᓵᙵᓂᐅᔪᒥ ᐊᑭᒪᖃᑦᑕᐅᑎᓂᕐᒥ, ᐅᓗᕆᐊᓇᕐᓂᐅᔪᒥ ᐊᒻᒪ ᒪᓕᒐᓕᕆᑦᑎᐊᙱᓐᓂᐅᔪᓂ.

Writer/editor Linda Pruessen published the book Canadian Courage: True Stories of Canada’s Everyday Heroes Aug.17. The anthology features dozens of short stories showcasing the courage of the average Canadian – two of which are set in Nunavut.

The idea for such a book came from Pruessen’s publisher HarperCollins, who then passed the ball to her court, where it was then up to her on what the finished book would look like. Pruessen says she and her publisher didn’t just want it to be exclusively made up of stories featuring rescue workers or firefighters, but “everyday Canadians.”

The book itself is divided into three sections, touching on danger, adversity and justice.

The first is called Courage in the Face of Adversity, addressing bravery in tough times, recovering from a bus crash, dealing with cancer or Covid, or displaying mettle in the face of hard times.

The second section is called Courage in the Face of Danger, which features people displaying their tenacity facing off against bears, the environment, fire and other dangerous situations.

This is where the first story set in Nunavut takes place, featuring James Kitchen, a pilot, and William Ward, an aircraft maintenance engineer, who on March 13, 2011 found themselves rescuing two hunters stuck on an ice floe roughly 200 kilometres from Iqaluit out on the Chapell Inlet.

“That story fits the danger mold perfectly, it’s just this incredible bit of teamwork that the two of them pulled together and managed to save these two hunters.”

The third section of Canadian Courage is Courage in the Face of Injustice, which features Leesee Papatsie fighting for better food prices in Iqaluit and Nunavut as a whole, while rallying others to do the same. She wasn’t the first to do so in Nunavut, however, Pruessen says it is an example of someone standing up to do something rather than complaining like many others do.

“It was just this nice story of someone who saw something that wasn’t right and decided to take a stand. She’s not the only one who’s done that in Canada’s North, lots of people complain and post stuff on Facebook, posting pictures of $18 orange juice, she actually went out and did something about it,” she said.

While Nunavut makes up a very small part of the book, the two stories which are set in it Pruessen says perfectly encapsulate the point she wanted to make in Canadian Courage.

“I think in both of these stories, they’re people like you and me who were just going about their lives doing what they do, but they stopped and did something special to help people.”