True North Rising

My fifty-year journey with the Inuit and Dene leaders who transformed Canada’s North

By Whit Fraser

In this captivating memoir, Whit Fraser weaves scenes from more than fifty years of reporting and living in the North with fascinating portraits of the Dene and Inuit activists who successfully overturned the colonial order and politically reshaped Canada—including his wife, Mary Simon, Canada’s first Indigenous governor general.

In True North Rising, Whit Fraser delivers a smart, touching and astute living history of five decades that transformed the North, a span he witnessed first as a longtime CBC reporter and then through his friendships and his work with Dene and Inuit activists and leaders. Whit had a front-row seat at the MacKenzie Valley Pipeline inquiry, the constitutional conferences and the land-claims negotiations that successfully reshaped the North; he’s also travelled to every village and town from Labrador to Alaska. His vivid portraits of groundbreakers such as Abe Okpik, Jose Kusugak, Stephen Kakfwi, Marie Wilson, John Amagoalik, Tagak Curley, and his own wife, Mary Simon, bring home their truly historic achievements, but they also give us a privileged glimpse of who they are, and who Whit Fraser is. He may have begun as a know-nothing reporter from the south, but he soon fell in love with the North, and his memoir is a testament to more than fifty years of commitment to its people.

First published in 2018, True North Rising was republished by Penguin Random House Canada in February 2023 and released in print, and as an ebook and audiobook.

What people are saying about True North Rising

I have enjoyed the read immensely. As one who never travelled the north and only mildly involved with the politics of the north and its peoples I have learned more about our history in a few hours with your book than I ever did in past years.  Thank you so much.

Glenn B. Powell

Oakville ON

Congratulations Whit. Your book is better than a “good read”– it’s a “very fine read”. Many of the characters/ leaders you introduce I too knew or met during my career. Many of the issues/ subjects/stories that you relate I am familiar with. I found all of your recounting of history that I am familiar with to be dead accurate career. Your postscript re the issues today is spot on.

James Moore

career public servant on Northern issues

It is a very compelling read. The emotion, love and respect for individuals, passion for the injustices and obvious sense of belonging come through in every chapter. Well done.

Elly Alboim

Ottawa ON

Whit, just finished reading your book. Took a while to get it away from my wife. We both thoroughly enjoyed it. You certainly bring the characters alive and the book presents a whole new perspective on what has happened and what is happening in the north. All in all an excellent book.

John Brehaut

Charlottetown PEI

I really enjoyed True North Rising. Loved all the stories, people, moments, issues – it was a powerful mix of events and perspectives, yet packaged in such an engaging, familiar, warm manner – as if I, as reader, was invited into this intimate space and granted a privileged opportunity to sit down with an ole’ storyteller to hear his life journey(s). This book, Whit, is a real gift that you have given Canadians (and beyond)

Diz Glithero

Chelsea QC

An expression of abiding love for Northern Canada and its people, True North Rising is an irresistible collection of stories, rants, and intimate confessions.  Insights into a turbulent period that’s now passed into history this makes this a must-read for anyone interested in Northern Canada.

Jim Bell

Nunatsiaq News

Whit Fraser presents a perspective on Canada that few of us have the opportunity to experience; enjoy True North Rising!

The Presbyterian Connection

I have, with great interest, completed reading your book.

I, have never before been exposed to the issues which confront our northern countrymen/women that you have presented to me in the book.

I shall view matters with a new and perhaps cleared lens thanks to yourself and your observations and feelings. Thanks for the book and the eye opener.

Bill Sinclair

Stellarton Nova Scotia