Regional Silver Medalist
(Independent Publisher Book Awards, 2018)
Carolyn Marie Souaid has a brave honest voice and a love for northern Canada and its people that is genuinely moving to read about.
Who are the main characters?
The protagonist is a modern woman of Syrian descent who trades her mother’s old world traditions for adventure in Canada's Far North. Yasmeen is Persian for jasmine, the flower that releases its fragrance after sunset, usually during a waxing moon. Yasmeen reveals her deepest self in the North where it is dark for much of the year. Her surname, Haddad, is “Smith” in English – one who “shapes metal by heating and hammering.” A smith “plays with fire.” The other main character – Joanasi Maqaittik (pronounced Yo-ann-assi Ma-hay-tik) – is the hunter Yasmeen falls in love with. Maqaittik, in Inuktitut, is “one who travels on the land.”
Where does the story take place?
The novel is set in 1983 in the fictional Hudson community of Saqijuvik. I decided not to anchor the narrative in an existing community because it is natural for readers to associate imagined characters and events with real life and, of course, being a work of fiction, I wanted to avoid this. Rather, I chose to focus on the “idea of north”, building a narrative that could have unfolded anywhere on the territory of Northern Quebec. Today, roughly 12,000 people inhabit the communities dotting the Hudson-Ungava coast of Northern Quebec, now known as Nunavik (“Great Land”). North of the 55th parallel, this area represents roughly 507,000 square kilometres of wild tundra, taiga forest, mountain, river and lake. Accessible only by air, these communities all have place names imbued with meaning. Salluit, for example, means “skinny people”; Puvirnituq means “the place that smells of rotten meat.” Even if it doesn’t exist on a real map, Saqijuvik alludes to “the changing times” as the Inuit struggle to maintain their traditions in a modern world. Literally translated, Saqijuvik means, “place where the winds are shifting.”
What is the backstory?
The rapid shift from a nomadic to a sedentary lifestyle and all of the destructive assimilation policies of the federal government throughout the years (the Sixties Scoop, residential schools, the slaughter of Inuit sled dogs), These details are not named in the book; they hover on the periphery.
with Constance Augusta Zaber
with Nantali Indongo