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North Star cover

  • eBook Edition
    • 978-1-03-919434-2
    • epub, pdf files
  • Paperback Edition
    • 978-1-03-919432-8
    • 6.0 x 9.0 inches
    • Black & White interior
    • 324 pages
  • Hardcover Edition
    • 978-1-03-919433-5
    • 6.0 x 9.0 inches
    • Black & White interior
    • 324 pages
  • Keywords
    • Jean-Marie Mouchet,
    • cross-country skiing,
    • residential schools,
    • Indigenous youth,
    • Canadian skiing,
    • northern Canadian history,
    • sociology of sport

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North Star
The Legacy of Jean-Marie Mouchet
by John Firth

“He was a man who had a purpose when he came among our people. He was very gentle with his purpose. He had a vision. He saw we had something that nobody else did. He gave us gifts which we remember to this day and still use. He changed us. He changed us for the better.” —Raymond Yakeleya, residential school survivor, filmmaker, Dene Elder Alone one winter night in a log cabin in the late 1940s, Jean-Marie Mouchet was waiting for his water to boil and started thinking about why he was there and how he could make a difference that mattered. He was a Catholic missionary in Canada’s North and could see the negative effect the Europeans were having on the Indigenous population. Wanting to do something about it, he resolved to help Indigenous youth reconnect with the land and their traditional values yet provide them with a means to adapt to the social and cultural change that was on the horizon. He started something simple – a skiing program. The individual and snow in harmony. Jean-Marie’s Territorial Experimental Ski Training (TEST) program yielded multiple Olympians, made cross-country skiing the fastest-growing winter sport in Canada, and placed both Northern and Canadian skiers on the cross-country skiing world stage. Over the next 60 years it also produced many leaders who helped guide Northern First Nations into the 21st Century and is credited with saving the lives of many residential school survivors. Firth paints a comprehensive and grounded portrait of the man behind the legacy, all upon a backdrop of a Northern landscape in the midst of transition that will appeal to anyone interested in Canadian and Indigenous history.

"For myself, and for this community, he was our North Star. North Stars help us not to drift away from our values. A North Star teaches us to keep our focus, be honest with ourselves, to motivate ourselves. I hope that Father can say to himself 'good work' because he has produced so many amazing North Stars of the future." —Cyd Fraser, a member of the community of cross-country skiers in Canada.

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John Firth is the Yukon Story Laureate and an award-winning writer who lives in Whitehorse, Yukon. His books include The Caribou Hotel: Hauntings, hospitality, a hunter and the parrot, One Mush: Jamaica's Dogsled Team, Yukon Sport : An Illustrated Encyclopedia, River Time: Racing the Ghosts of the Klondike Rush, Better Than A Cure: One man's journey to free the world of Polio (with Ramesh Ferris) and Yukon Quest: The 1000-mile sled dog race between Fairbanks and Whitehorse. His website is


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