untethered (2018)


Poem and words by Jónína Kirton

Jónína Kirton is a Red River Métis/Icelandic poet. Born in Portage la Prairie, Manitoba she currently lives in the unceded territory of the Musqueam, Sḵwxwú7mesh, and Tsleil-Waututh.

She received the 2016 Vancouver’s Mayor’s Arts Award for an Emerging Artist in the Literary Arts category. She was sixty when she published her first collection of poetry with Talonbooks in 2015. Much to her delight, page as bone ~ ink as blood, has received some critical acclaim.

Two years later she brought us her second collection, An Honest Woman, again with Talonbooks.  The book was a finalist in the Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize. Betsy Warland had this to say about An Honest Woman: “Kirton picks over how she was raised familially and culturally like a crime scene.” Apparently, all that dreaming about being a Nancy Drew when she grew up did come to fruition. Just not the way she thought it would as a child.

Illustrated and painted by Jan Castillo

Jan is a local designer, illustrator, and craftsman currently juggling his role as a graphic designer and owner of 'Red Herring Studio', a small business focussed on handmade leather goods.

Through self discovery and the need to constantly be creating personal projects, his design sensibility and style has flourished and his love of anything and everything hands-on has transcended into his daily life. With this experience, he has further developed his keen sense of design and has honed his skills by working on diverse projects like illustration, chalkboard art, sign painting, and leather work.


Sutherland Hotel
785 Main St.
Winnipeg, MB
(South-facing wall)


"This poem speaks to blood memory and the way the bones of my ancestors have always pulled on me. The gathering of their stories, visiting their homelands, the places where their bones have become part of the earth, has been important to me. Whether it was Lake of the Woods, North Dakota or Iceland, I could feel their presence in the land. Hearing our mother tongues ignited blood memory, caused the cells of my body dance. I have more lands to visit and more stories to gather. At sixty-three I feel a sense of urgency to learn all I can and to leave the stories for those who come after me. It has felt like a calling, one that has been filled with unexpected complexities as there is not only much territory to cover but much of it had me questioning my unique responsibilities re reconciliation. Both settler and Indigenous my family played a significant role in the Hudson Bay and the Northwest Company’s move across Canada. As I gathered the stories I had to make peace with many things. This mural is a healing moment for me. A reclaiming of my place in our homeland. I am so grateful to Jan Castillo for our conversations re the excerpt and for his interpretation of not only the entire poem but the things I shared with him re being of mixed race with so many threads to follow. I give thanks to him and to all who made this possible. – All my Relations."

– Jónína Kirton

Copyright © All rights reserved.
Using Format