Jamesie Fournier

Spooky Stories and Cool Culture: Inuk Writer Jamesie Fournier Writes New Thrilling Tales

Inspired by his childhood love of horror movies and comic books and Inuit stories like a Promise is a Promise and Hide and Sneak by Michael Kusugak, Jamesie Fournier loved immersing himself in escapist and scary storytelling. “This is our culture, this is our heritage and it is spooky and cool,” he exclaimed. 

Now an Inuk writer who lived in Yellowknife, and Fort Smith, he creates short stories, poetry and film scripts, excelling in Inuit Horror as his genre. His first book, The Other Ones, was published by Inhabit Media, and he also published a poetry book in Inuktitut and English. He’s written short stories and articles for the Inuit Art Quarterly, too. 

Horror lets you see, according to Fournier, “what shines most about people when they're pitted against these terrible and supernatural odds. That brings out their humanity, what their drive is, and we realize what it is that we love, what it is that we value, because all of a sudden we see all these things are at stake. And we want to be able to safeguard those somehow.” 

Growing up, he made up stories with his friends and collaborated with his artist brother. They submitted a story and illustrations to a contest and won a case of video games. Later, he started writing poetry. His first publication was a non-fiction piece which won a contest and was printed in an anthology. He continued entering writing contests.

His advice to youth considering moving out of their small town to go away to school or work is,”Home is where you make it.” He sees the cultural pride, respect and love in staying home and the opportunity to travel as equally good options. He recommends getting familiar with your new city, finding a routine and sticking to it to adjust to a new community. 

When he first moved away to Ottawa, he found the city big, cold, unfriendly and unloving and he gradually built confidence to venture out. While taking film studies, he found community in the Indigenous Student centre. He also found traditional foods that reminded him of home and he encourages youth to seek out Indigenous student support wherever they move. 

He ended up moving back up North, working as a cook. Long, tiring hours prompted him to go to school in Fort Smith for a mineral processing operator program, learning to separate diamonds from ore. Exhausted from spending 12 hours or more a day shovelling rocks, he returned to school once more.

Illustration by Shaikara David

At the University of Saskatchewan’s Indian Teacher Education Program in Fort Smith, he majored in literature and Indigenous Studies. He was inspired by the works of Indigenous authors. For six years, he taught in Fort Smith until he heard about an Inuktitut as a second language program in Iqaluit. Moving to Nunavut was a big adjustment but worthwhile. When he was staying in the staff housing with Inhabit Media, he got to work with their production company, voicing puppets, working as an assistant, doing voice acting. 

These days he’s working on an exhibit with the Montreal Science Center about how climate change is impacting Inuit communities, on making an animated feature from one of his short stories, and he’s part of both an Indigenous screenwriting program and the Audible Indigenous Writer’s Circle. He wants to make an Artic-style Mad Max film and he’s involved with another short horror story project. In a few years, he has a children’s book coming out, too. Working with Inuit Futures, he had the chance to develop an exhibit for Halifax’s Nocturne Festival, creating five horror stories brought to life alongside talented artists.  

If he could share a message with his younger self it would be, “It's okay to not know who you are. You're constantly going to be changing.” He wishes he knew there’s no set timeframe for life’s milestones and it’s different for everyone. Fournier also would have liked to know everyone matures at different rates and to make time for himself to have a good time, without overdoing it.   

To maintain his mental health, Fournier goes for walks, does Tai Chi, exercises and stretches. He writes and recites poetry. He suggests healthy hobbies as outlets for youth and that they build a support system of people to talk to. 

Working on passion projects keeps Fournier motivated as a writer, along with the chance to express himself creatively. Sometimes writing can be a pain, working out plot holes and piecing things together but he always feels better when it’s done. For others struggling, he suggests taking breaks and also just plugging in the words, one sentence at a time to fill the daunting empty page. Sometimes he finds himself distracting and procrastinating, but he knows that while he’s avoiding getting started, he is actually mentally working things through. For inspiration, Fournier looks to his aunt, a talented artist and to people he knows who are excelling in their fields. 

With childhood memories of getting lost in horror movies, comic books and traditional Inuit stories, Jamesie Fournier has picked up the pen to write some of his own thrilling tales. His childhood love of escapist and scary storytelling has brought to life new stories for others to explore. Making up stories like he did in his youth, he’s delighting in his cultural heritage and the thrill of a good scare.

Thanks to Alison Tedford Seaweed for authoring this article.

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Key Parts

  • Career
  • Identity
  • Province/Territory
    Northwest Territories
  • Date
    December 22, 2023
  • Post Secondary Institutions
    No PSI found.
  • Discussion Guide
    create to learn discuss

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