From The Land of Ice and Snow

A literature Anthology Of Inuit culture

"Literacy is about more than reading and writing – it is about how we communicate in society. It is about social practices and relationships, about knowledge, language and culture.

Literacy finds its place in our lives alongside other ways of communicating. Indeed, literacy itself takes many forms: on paper, on the computer screen, on TV, on posters and signs. Those who use literacy take it for granted – but those who cannot use it are excluded from much communication in today’s world. Indeed, it is the excluded who can best appreciate the notion of “literacy as freedom”.

(UNESCO, Statement for the United Nations Literacy Decade, 2003–2012; italics added)

Literacy for Learning – The Report of the Expert Panel on Literacy in Grades 4 to 6 in Ontario

December 2004

From the Land of Ice and Snow is a Junior literature anthology by Educators for Educators. As part of the Calls to Action brought about by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, we must provide our students with rich texts that celebrate Aboriginal history and culture. These texts complement the Ontario First Nation, Métis, and Inuit Education Policy Framework. Students and educators in Grade 4-6 will love how these stories paint life in the land of ice and snow.


Yuit is the story of a brave 10-year-old Inuit girl named Liat who faces many challenges after she befriends an orphaned seal pup. There is something different about the little seal pup, and her grandfather knows that they will be exiled if Yuit returns with them to there settlement. Liat is not willing to part with her smart little seal Yuit and in turn, must face the consequence. Little does Liat know, but Yuit will change her life forever.

Yuit is a great book for junior readers to explore Inuit life, culture, and creation myth. Vivid depictions of living on the frozen landscape take readers to a new and exciting environment that they may have thought uninhabitable. Through Liat, the story explores the beliefs of Inuit people and how Inuit societies lived and thrived. The description of making igloos and cooking seal meat offers a glimpse into a culture that readers may know very little about.

This book is a wonderful complement to grades 4-6 language curriculum as it exposes learners to diversity. It also makes connections to the social studies curriculum as it examines the changing way of life that resulted when settlers arrived. Using critical thinking, students should discuss the Inuit relationship to the land and how interconnected their own identity is to their surrounding environment.

Writing the next chapter to this story would be a fantastic way for learners to continue their adventure with Liak and Yuit. Students could brainstorm their ideas in small groups and then write about what they think Liak and Yuit's new lives might be. Students could then share their ideas about how they think the book ends.

Tuk and the Whale

Tuk and the Whale imagines a whale hunt between European fishers and Inuit on the eastern coast of Baffin Island in the early 1600s. The story shows the tension and cooperation that a survival situation forced upon two very different groups.

Tuk and the Whale is an excellent read for grade five as it the Inuit way of life from an insider perspective. It imaginatively narrates how a young Inuit boy might see contact and the gifts from European fishers like a knife and different hunting practices. This book also ties into Ontario’s Social Studies Curriculum (2018) grade five, strand A: Interactions of Indigenous Peoples and Europeans prior to 1713, in What Would Eventually Become Canada and it ties into all the Big Ideas in its sub-strands. It ties into the Interrelationships concept as it shows the tension that contact had and the fears, rightly so, of how that contact might impact Inuit communities. Finally, Tuk and the Whale works with the Ontario First Nation, Metis, and Inuit Education Policy Framework by promoting Inuit culture and traditional knowledge in the classroom.

A fun activity for students is to recreate the whale hunt from both the European and Inuit perspectives as a short play. Students would have to interpret these views from what is known in the story and use historical sources to creatively imagine what plausibly could be felt or thought by the hunters.

Sila and the Land

Sila and the Land is an extraordinary graphic novel that depicts one girl's inquiry into the land and environment around her. How the story was written is crucial as it frames the journey that Sila is on. Since the authors are from three different indigenous backgrounds and through interviews with indigenous youth, they wrote a story on the collective Aboriginal beliefs of respect for the land. In the end, the authors offer concrete steps that learners can take to gather information about taking action.

As the third book in the anthology, this book helps engage oral communication about positive environmental stewardship, making inferences on how we can protect our natural surroundings. It also includes and adds value to different voices and perspectives within the Canadian narrative. By promoting different narratives, students can critically analyze a multitude of perspectives through literature. As a graphic novel, students are also able to interpret the images and how it relates to their relationship to the environment.

A fun classroom activity would have students making a book advertisement. In groups of two, students could create a short advertisement for the book, perhaps tying it to earth day. They should include why they liked it, why the book is essential for their friends and families to read, and maybe some recommendations on how to be a steward for the environment. Students could choose between a few different mediums (video, poster) and present their advertisement in class.

Link to Urban Community Cohort

  • Privileges Inuit and feminine voices and narratives
  • Decolonalizes our understanding of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal
  • Migration to urban centers due to colonization
  • Reflecting on Indigenous populations moving to urban centers due to lack of basic necessities (healthcare, skills training)
  • Analyzing the context of Aboriginal people’s experiences of migration from rural to urban settings
  • Understanding Inuit culture within the Urban context in the past, present and future.


Tuk and the Whale Teacher's Guide:

Sila and the Land PDF:

Ontario First Nation, Métis, and Inuit Education Policy Framework:

Pulling Together: A guide for Indigenization of post-secondary institutions. A professional learning series by Kory Wilson: