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Poetry Indigenous

Where the Sea Kuniks the Land

by (author) Ashley Qilavaq-Savard

Inhabit Media
Initial publish date
Nov 2022
Indigenous, Women Authors, Places, Nature
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Nov 2022
    List Price

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A “kunik” is a traditional Inuit greeting, often given to loved ones, in which a person places their nose on another’s cheek and breathes them in. Where the Sea Kuniks the Land extends that gesture of love to the Arctic landscape, in a suite of poems that celebrates the interconnectedness of people and place, past and present.

The importance of land, culture, and identity play key roles in these poems, and the collection will move readers to think deeply about colonization, intergenerational trauma, and grief.

This collection paints beautiful pictures of Arctic landscapes, love stories, and growth. It will take readers on a journey through the seasons, from fierce snowstorms to a warm field of Labrador tea flowers.

About the author

Ashley Qilavaq-Savard is an Inuk writer, artist, and emerging filmmaker born and raised in Iqaluit, Nunavut. She writes poetry about decolonizing narratives, healing from intergenerational trauma, and love of the land and culture. She has published two short stories relating to her Inuit culture, “My Very First Ulu” with Nipiit magazine and “Miki and the Aqsarniit” with Chirp magazine. Since attending the Vancouver Film School, Ashley has led acting and storytelling workshops for children and youth with the Qaggiavuut Performing Arts Society and the Labrador Creative Arts Festival. Ashley also creates sealskin and beaded jewellery, and is a dedicated student of Inuktitut.


Ashley Qilavaq-Savard's profile page


  • Long-listed, First Horizon Award
  • Nominated, Indigenous Voices Award — English Poetry
  • Commended, Grand Prize

Excerpt: Where the Sea Kuniks the Land (by (author) Ashley Qilavaq-Savard)

I Am an Inuk Woman


I am an Inuk woman

my markings say it so

don’t look at me and ask

taa Inuuviit?

because I too come from the land of snow and ice

my heart belongs to the place where the sea kuniks the land

an Arctic islander on ancient tundra

these histories etched into my roots

these lines filled with familiarity

this identity traced along skin

fighting flames


shining stars

from heart to hand

ink to being

chapters readily unfold

these lines are my markings

the story of my journey meant to be told

I walked these lands and know my way home

I washed my sorrows in the river and dried my body in the breeze

I wished for the bitterness of assimilation to stop being so damn easy

I am an Inuk woman

working hard to practise, protect, and preserve the raw beauty of us

as my histories must pass through me in seeds

these lines will welcome the next generation of Inuit

my markings are meant to help me grow

skin and soul


Arctic Adoration

can you imagine just barely escaping a snowstorm

enough to witness it in all its glory at your tail’s end

swallowing whole your home like a

sneaky fox and clueless lemming

swiftly, naturally, unapologetically

suffocating and cleansing all in the same

to feel that fierce wind forcing you into the self-realization of resilience

eyes squinting as a million tiny snowflakes dance so elegantly before you

lungs erupting with crisp clean air, heart outpouring the essence of the land

from the most quenching breath, you feel our ancestors flowing through your veins

leaving only clarity and vitality as they journey through you


Dance With Me


will you dance with me like the wind and snow do during a brazen blizzard?

mending together body and soul in a whimsical whirl

I am drawn to you like a malikkaat flower follows the warm sun

you are the warm sun and cool breeze on the most dreamlike of Greenlandic sunny summer


the wonderland where I found you in all its radiance

you are nature at its finest, embracing changing seasons and breathing colour to life like the

Torngat Mountains’ heartfelt tundra during Labrador’s most lively fall

you are the strongest river siku with the purest essence flowing underneath those icy blue eyes

I could happily drink you up for years to come as long as you’ll share your ambrosian love with


Editorial Reviews

"Ashley Qilavaq-Savard is writing poetry that should be written, must be written"—The Fiddlhead

"This collection widens the horizon and expands the world, transporting to places foreign, inhabiting its full complexity—to feel it deep within you, its joys, sorrows, and beauty. With a voice of sheer authenticity, the poet is clear-eyed sincere. She invites you to dance with her as the wind and snow dance in a blizzard, to feel the warm Arctic summer sun, to see her world through the eyes of her grandmother and great grandmother. The blue of her world, the sky and the ice and the sea will become yours."—The Eric Hoffer Award

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