Writer releases book about living on the land

Paul Bickford/NNSL photo Larry Frolick's new book will have its Hay River launch on Sept. 28 at NWT Centennial Library.

Paul Bickford/NNSL photo
Larry Frolick’s new book will have its Hay River launch on Sept. 28 at NWT Centennial Library.

Larry Frolick, a writer living in Hay River, has just released his 10th book.

The work is entitled Crow Never Dies: Life on the Great Hunt.

“It’s about life on the land today as practised mainly by older people, by elders traditionally,” he said, noting most of those people are older than 60.

“The story is based on me hanging out with these guys and recording and writing what they told me and what they did and how they thought about things,” he said, noting that included hunters, fishers, berry pickers and craftspeople.

Frolick said the book covers the whole range of subsistence activities in a hunting and gathering lifestyle.

“I think I would describe it as a book about the traditional lifestyles of First Nations and Inuit and Inuvialuit on the land. Their life on the land,” he said. “The subtitle is Life on the Great Hunt but the hunt was more than just shooting caribou or something. It was also getting berries.”

The Great Hunt also represents the idea of a continuity going back thousands of years.

Frolick, who is originally from Toronto, has lived in Hay River for three years and works with the GNWT.

Before coming to Hay River, he worked for two years with the Gwich’in Tribal Council in Inuvik.

For his new book, he gathered information in selected areas of the NWT, Yukon and Nunavut, and the Cree region of northern Quebec.

“What I did was I wanted to know what’s still around, what really happens when people go out on the land,” he said. “What do they think about? How do they feel about things? What do they enjoy? What do they look forward to? What do they even dream about?”

And he also found the people on the land very happy to engage in what he calls philosophical discussions.

Research for the book involved a lot of effort, travel and money, Frolick said. “I’ve been working on this since 2005. It did not come easy.”

It also meant sometimes just going into communities and gaining the trust of people enough for them to bring him out on the land.

Once those connections were made, he gained exceptional insight into that way of life.

For example, he recalled observing one elder spending half an hour watching and speculating why birds were climbing on the lower branches of a tree, and trying to figure it out.

“That’s something that was common to all these guys. They all do that,” he said, noting that living on the land is an ongoing learning process.

Frolick also got the Crow Never Dies name for his book from a story told by an elder.

“Basically, the idea of it is crows are social animals and they rely on memory that they transmit in their own crow language,” he said. “So they don’t actually ever die because the group memory continues on through the different individuals.”

Frolick, who is an award-winning writer, has previously released books on a wide variety of topics, including Chernobyl and the Ukrainian-Russian conflict.

His work falls under the umbrella of global culture, he said. “In other words, globalization. How people are impacted by globalization.”

His next book will be about D-Day, and he is also working on a project focusing on the Great Slave Lake region with an English photographer.

A launch in Hay River for Crow Never Dies: Life on the Great Hunt will take place at 7 p.m. on Sept. 28 at NWT Centennial Library.

The peer-reviewed book, which has been published by the University of Alberta Press, is already available in bookstores and on Amazon.

–Paul Bickford