Nipugtug (In the Forest)

Nipugtug (In the Forest)

A review of Nipugtug (In the Forest) by Emma Metallic

Published on July 4, 2024

Emma Metallic’s debut book Nipugtug, written in English and Mi’gmaw, is a non-linear story that follows A’le, a Mi’gmaw woman on a journey to learn and speak her language, over a day, and throughout the phases of her life.   

Nipugtug (In the Forest)
Emma Metallic
Illustrated by Natalie Laurin

Kegedonce Press

As the story begins, A’le sips her morning coffee and considers snowshoeing in the forest. She knows it will be hard to cut a fresh trail, but that she will feel better once she is outside. When she arrives at the forest’s edge, she remembers the whispers she heard as a young girl among the miti’sg (the trees). Her younger self loved to play in the forest, together with her friends, Qasgusi (cedar tree), Masgwi (white birch tree), and Wapus (rabbit). The trees and the animals are not only playmates but forest guides and the guardians of language and meaning. “I need you to listen to me,” Wapus tells adult A’le. “There are words spoken throughout nipugt [forest], words so old and special they reveal our ways of being on the Earth.”

Though once at home in nipugt among these ancient words, A’le’s older self is uncertain of her place. Taunted by Ga’qaquj (crow), her unease deepens: “I tried to remember what this trail was called, speak its name, but with every step, it seemed as though the language of nipugt slipped between my fingers, leaving me behind.” As a new mother, and later, a grandmother, A’le struggles to come to terms with the forgotten, lost, and unused words of her beloved nipugt. Yet she finds a way to quiet the negative voices, and discover her path.  

Paired with painterly illustrations by Natalie Laurin, Nipugtug is a loving portrait of intergenerational family life and an artful exploration of language revitalization. For non-speakers looking to reconnect with or learn the language, the Mi’gmaw-to-English glossary offers a window into the language for intermediate to advanced readers.mRb

Meaghan Thurston is a Montreal-based arts and science writer, co-editor of the anthology With the World to Choose From: Seven Decades of the Beatty Lecture at McGill University, and mother to two budding readers.



Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

More Reviews

Not All Fun and Games

Not All Fun and Games

Legault and Weststar repeatedly ask, “What does it mean to be a citizen at work in a project-based workplace?”

By Miranda Eastwood

Good Want

Good Want

In a vicious act of rebellion, Domenica Martinello demolishes the delusions of the capitalist pastoral.

By Martin Breul