it was the land. a spoken poem by pj Yukon. Poet Laureate of the Yukon

PJ Yukon!

it was the land 

no one knew the evil men could do 
behind closed doors 
no one spoke of it 
no one said sorry 
and in the end 
it was the land 
the very land itself 
that spoke

it was the land 
that carried the secrets 
that knew the truth 
that yielded a million sorrows 
that stopped us like a thunderbolt
in the streets. 
god forgive us
the whispers were true

it was the land that spoke for thousands 
denied a life. denied a family 
denied a mother tongue
and as our grief-filled days 
stretched out before us  
like a blanket of fear
from the land of the Mi’kmaq to Haida Gwaii 
we were numb with disbelief

for it was the land 
the very land itself
that spoke to us in the darkness 
in the sacred smoke of our ancestors 
and in the voices of our children 
who whispered on the wind 
guiding us
showing us the way

telling us 
there will be a time 
for coming together 
as a nation. as a people. and as a family 
to celebrate now
and lift our brothers and sisters 
as never before 
our tears are never far from the surface

it always gets darker before the light comes back

June 24 2021

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pj johnson Poet Laureate of the Yukon


*PJ Yukon Poet Laureate

On Canada Day July 1st 1994 PJ Yukon (formerly pj johnson), the daughter of a Yukon trapper was formally invested and given the title Poet Laureate of the Yukon during a ceremony in Whitehorse where she became the first officially-invested poet laureate in Canada.

As an oral/visual artist from a Northern storytelling culture her poems, stories, plays and songs have been televised and performed at various venues across Canada and around the world. Her creative works have been published in books and journals globally; translated into several languages, and published widely.

Diagnosed with a learning disorder called ‘Nonverbal Learning Disorder’ or NVLD in 2005, PJ Yukon encourages people with a learning disability to realize they can still pursue their dreams.

Active in the arts for decades as an oral/visual storyteller, mentor, and performer at various venues across Canada, PJ Yukon is also an author, playwright, actor, musician, composer, teller of stories and Yukon ambassador. – If it’s creative she’s probably been there.

Her poem “it was the land” was recently published in McLean’s Magazine and featured at The Lawrence House Centre for the Arts in Ottawa and has been translated into several languages and published around the world. The poem is also available on YouTube performed by PJ Yukon featuring scenes of the Canadian North.

Known as the Yukon Raven Lady, in 1985 PJ led a successful campaign to have the Northern Raven declared the official symbol of the Yukon Territory. She is also a passionate animal rights advocate currently campaigning to protect the northern sled dogs.

On Canada Day July 1st 2022 PJ Yukon celebrated her 28th anniversary as Poet Laureate of the Yukon. She is the longest-serving Poet Laureate in Canada.

Her book “it’s howlin’ time!” about the life and times of a northern Canadian poet laureate is available at Mac’s Fireweed Books in Whitehorse. Her Official Website is located at:

You can also join PJ Yukon on Facebook and on Twitter!

Published by darcie friesen hossack

Darcie Friesen Hossack is a graduate of the Humber School for Writers. Her short story collection, Mennonites Don’t Dance, was a runner-up for the Danuta Gleed Award, shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers Prize and the Ontario Library Association's Forest of Reading Evergreen Award for Adult Fiction. Citing irreverence, the book was banned by the LaCrete Public Library in Northern Alberta. Having mentored with Giller finalists Sandra Birdsell (The Russlander) and Gail Anderson Dargatz (Spawning Grounds, The Cure for Death by Lightening), Darcie's first novel, Stillwater, will be released in the spring of 2023. Darcie is also a four time judge of the Whistler Independent Book Awards, and a career food writer. She lives in Northern Alberta, Canada, with her husband, international award-winning chef, Dean Hossack.

One thought on “it was the land. a spoken poem by pj Yukon. Poet Laureate of the Yukon

  1. Sincere gratitude to Darcie Friesen Hossack and the WordCityLit Journal for including me in the July 2022 edition. The inclusion of my poem “it was the land”, which was written on June 4 2021 as Canadians struggle to come to terms with the discovery of unmarked graves on the grounds of residential schools in Canada, is especially appreciated during this time of the Papal Penitential Visit. Thank you for your continued support of the Canadian Literary Arts and Artists. – PJ Yukon Poet Laureate

    Liked by 1 person

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