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Read an Excerpt from Emma Metallic's Beautiful, Snowy Debut, Nipugtug, Written in Both Mi’gmaw & English

Banner image with cover of Nipugtug by Emma Metallic. Text reads Excerpt Nipugtug by Emma Metallic. You need to learn how to live in Mi’gmaw, go out and speak it, think in Mi’gmaw. Background taken from artwork in Nipugtug. Open Book logo bottom left.

A meditative snowshoe through the forest might be just what we all need in the busy holiday season. While not many of us have the chance to don snowshoes and absorb the peace of a snowy wood, after reading Mi’gmaw writer Emma Metallic's debut children's book, you may feel as refreshed as if you'd been there yourself. 

Nipugtug (which translates to "in the Forest" and is pronounced "nee-book-dook") follows A’le’s, a young Mi’gmaw woman, at several different points in her life. In each vignette, she makes her way through the woods on her snowshoes, conversing with animals and trees and reflecting on family, the natural world, and in particular, the fight to preserve and embrace her Mi’gmaw language and culture, threatened by colonial pressures. 

Moving, thoughtful, and gentle, Metallic's powerful tale is perfectly supported by stunning, evocative paintings from Natalie Laurin. Crucially, Nipugtug is written in both Mi’gmaw and English, showcasing A’le’s language and offering readers a chance to discover it firsthand.

We're excited to share an excerpt from Nipugtug, first in Mi’gmaw and then in English, where we see A’le at nineteen, about to set out into the woods and ruminating on her relatives' "gentle reminders, guiding [her] on where to go next."

Excerpt from Nipugtug by Emma Metallic:

yellow banner image with the word wejgwapniaq

A’le’s Gisgug 

Te’siegsitpu’g, wigunapu esamugwai. Telo’tm me’naqsitugwa’lig na. Gigjipugua’si ta’n epsaqtejg epij. Na’gu’set neiasa’teget ta’n etlwissugwatigei, pegisitoq welpeteg aq tugwa’toq nignen. Pas ta’n telowo’gwetij, geji’gpnig ‘Ngij aq Nujj gi’s ne’sisinijig gupji’jg wigunapu gissamugwajig.

Wela’gweg pesaqap. Etliangamtmap nipugt aq telo’tmap lpa etlwigumig, puwalig ‘sgoqien nipugtug. Ni’n mawigsatm gesig. Penamujuigusal ajipunaias, pugjig tapuisgegipunaia’s. Gi’s sa’q mu wejiew nipugtug, aq sa’q mu weltesguaqig wi’sisg aq miti’sg. Etugjel lias nipugtug gisgug.

“Alaqami’tes gisgug A’le’s?” ‘Ngij pipanimit.

“Etug jel awti’jl me’ ‘mtuegt’tal muta mnaq wen tewiewgw” telua’p. Tewapi tuop’tigtug aq etliangaptm ta’n teligisg’g, gi’s gaqipsaq. Geitu gelu’lgt’tew tu’an gujmug. Te’s nipugtug eliei telo’tm waqamapatuij nunji aq me’ weliangita’si.

“E’e, wije’wulig, gatu eigl natgoqe’l ta’n amujpa elugatmann” asitematl ge’s etlisgnewatg usapun aq alaptg ugtap’sqi’gnmn. Pusgi pipanima’titl ‘ntgijal t’smmnin usapun muta telimgqatawe’g, gatu mnaq t’smmug. “Lpa mu tala’tu! Pas’g mui’numia’tu! Na pas’g” ‘Ngij tlimas

wenn pipanigesinij. Nujj angamg’p aq pas’g teluep “A’ Tu’s, geitun wesamitge’g ugjit ni’n” aq siawsamqwap ugtwigunapu. Nujj na me’ gesatgl nipgl. Te’s Nipnigu’s, na Nujj

aq ugjignaml Sa’nal plamue’gejig. Gatu ta’n tujiw gesig, na gesatg lamguom wesgowa’sij.

Majulgwa’tmn samqwan ta’n telijuig aq wejigina’masin te’s sasewe’gisg’g musgatugsi’gw ta’n telmimajin ula ugs’tqamug. Gigmmenaq gigjiw aq gneg wigumugsieg, gimewistoqig, sangew migwitettes, negmow na ilgwenugsieg ta’n tltesguatesnug.

“Nuta’n na Mi’gmew ‘Nnu’mimajin, maja’si aq ‘Nnui’si, angita’si ‘Nnuigtug”. Nujj ugsitunn angite’tmaqal. Nujj apjiw tluetew amujpa melgo’tmn ta’n tujiw gegina’masin ‘Nnuisuti. “Mut tetaq’te’tmu, gegina’masin ‘Nnui’suti ugsua’lultew ta’n telipitawsin,” teluep.

Artwork by Natalie Laurin from Nipugtug

Artwork by Natalie Laurin from Nipugtug

yellow banner image with the word Daybreak

A’le’s Today

With every sip of the coffee, I felt the caffeine wake me up. I edged closer to the heater. Na’gu’set shone throughout the kitchen, bringing warmth and awakening our sleepy home. I could tell ‘Ngij and Nujj were already on their third cup of coffee by their fully engaged conversations. Wela’gweg pesaqap. The mountains behind us were freshly covered with a crystal blanket. Nipugt caught my attention, inviting me for a walk. It had been a while since I’d gone out into nipugt and visited the wi’sisg and miti’sg. Soon I would be twenty. I should go out today...

“Going out for a snowshoe today, A’le’s?” ‘Ngij asked me while she put on her coat.

“Maybe... the trails might be hard if no one has gone out yet,” I said, looking at the fresh wastew through our dining room window. I knew it would be good to get outside. Going to nipugt always helped to clear and ground my mind.

“Well, I would go with you, but I have to run some errands,” she replied while braiding her hair and looking for her keys at the same time. People always ask ‘Ngij if she dyes her hair because of how black it is, but she never did. “I don’t do anything to it! Only bear grease! Na pas’g,” ‘Ngij would say to anyone who asked. I looked at Nujj and all he said was, “Ah Tu’s, you know it’s too cold for me.” He continued drinking his coffee. Nujj enjoyed the summers more. Every June, Nujj fished salmon with his brother, ‘Ntlamugsis Sa’n. But in the winter, he liked to stay inside. Moving with the tides and learning from the seasons shows us how to live with the land. Our relatives within and beyond nipugt call out to us, whisper gentle reminders, guiding us on where to go next.

“You need to learn how to live in Mi’gmaw, go out and speak it, think in Mi’gmaw,” Nujj’s voice rang through my mind. Nujj always says that it’s important to ground yourself when learning and speaking Mi’gmaw. It’s easy to slip onto negative paths that have harmed our language for so long. But nourishing our spirit helps us to speak Mi’gmaw. “Give it time, gegina’masin Nnui’suti is a lifelong journey.”


Emma Metallic is from the Mi’gmaq community, Listuguj, Quebec, located in the seventh district Gespe’gewa’gi, Mi’gma’gi. Emma holds a BA in Contemporary studies and Law, Justice, & Society with a minor in Indigenous Studies from the University of King’s College. Emma is passionate about writing stories that reflect her community’s knowledge, needs, and desires. While a learner of the Mi’gmaw language, Emma strives to use the language as much as she can in her day-to-day life. Nipugtug (pronounced “nee-book-dook”) is her debut book.

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Nipugtug (In the Forest–pronounced “nee-book-dook”) follows A’le’s, a young Mi’gmaw woman, as she snowshoes through the forest at different times in her life. On her journeys, she meets and converses with the animals and the trees, who guide her through the challenging and nourishing emotions of learning her Mi’gmaw language. Grounded in her relationship with the territory, A’le’s navigates memories of her language and culture that cling to realities within and beyond her life. A delightful and moving story illustrated with Natalie Laurin’s beautiful paintings, Nipugtug is written in both Mi’gmaw and English for language-learners of any age.