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. https://youtu.be/9oZP7Xl69GQ
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: https://www.yukonpoetlaureate.com/
You can also join PJ Yukon on Facebook and on Twitter!
One thought on “it was the land. a spoken poem by pj Yukon. Poet Laureate of the Yukon”
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
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