Indigenous History Month

The Anthology

Poetry connects the heart and the spirit, allowing the author to paint a picture with words. This year’s Indigenous History Month, we’re creating an anthology series of poetry written by First Nations, Inuit and Métis writers. These poets are sharing our history, culture and stories through words weighted in their experiences.

Check back daily to see the latest featured poem.

Kevin Wesaquate

Poetik

Poetik is a spoken word artist and community advocate. Who believes in the power of expressing your voice and the Indigenous tradition of Storytelling.

Your Words Are Powerful

Your words are powerful my words are said. Your words are dancing to new notes in my head. My words are like trees of autumn days like leaves that leave me in different ways, while your words trickle out like spring run-off. Your words bring new meaning and life, while my words have been sustaining me all these winter nights. Your words usher in summer heat and are vibrant and new, while mine still sit reflecting the cold days of a grey hue. I imagine your future an open land untouched by man while I harvest my own and try to understand. I envision a day when we could all speak your two languages.


The way of the NEHIYAWAK poet naturally speaking naturally living naturally sharing metaphors and similes on hand drums near urban street corners. A place where NEHIYAWAK own homes on side streets by NEHIYAWAK owned businesses on main streets. And poetry is taught in NATIVE schools on Native tongues. Because your future is bright and nature has been known to change, because we would all be beyond prejudice and hate we would too busy trying our latest traditional fashions all up and down the block from ribbon skirts to ribbon shirts.


I imagine place where we trade in protein bars for pemmican where we could pick wild berries in our communities. Where diabetes doesn’t exist thanks to the medicine keepers and paleo diets, a place where our children could run free of gangs and crime, a place where young men let their hair out like warriors of the past in suits and ties, where beadwork is valuable and honored over gold and diamonds.


Where instead of our elders begging for change and suffer from homelessness we house them in the best of places. If a child only speaks their NEHIYAW tongue they are regarded as Royalty on these prairies. I’m referring to you young Native poets I am honored to have been your teacher poetry. I am glad to know that you can go on practicing your new poetry skills in two languages as I only know one.


My belly is full and yours has yet to taste this world. Your spoken words fancy dance near my inner ear drum and swift to my heartbeat. Let your spoken words lead you, into the open wild. Don’t be afraid and don’t look back young Native poets this is where I’ve made my stand.

Aleria McKay

Aleria McKay is a 24-year-old Haudenosaunee and Teme Augama Anishnabai educator, writer, and theatre artist. She has self-published two poetry books, Thunderstorms in 2020 and Sweetgrass & Cigarettes in 2023. Her newest play, Til Our Bodies Fall Apart premiered at the Paprika Festival this past May.

homecoming

when old age greets me
like a warm bed after a long day
i will welcome her home.
i will pour her tea at the kitchen table
and tell her stories i have long since forgotten.
i will show her my skin
as it sings her songs of summer’s past.
i will show her my feet
weathered and worn like my favourite pair of shoes
i will show her my eyes
the black holes that have swallowed each sight as if it were that last bite of birthday cake.

when old age greets me
like a warm bed after a long day
she will take me in her arms.
she will braid my hair, long, dark strands
that will grey with each touch.
she will hold my hands that have held the world,
still stained of dandelion and grass.
she will kiss my face
making way for the waves and ripples,
the fingerprints of each ocean of memories.

when old age greets me
like a warm bed after a long day
we will walk together.
i will show her the trails i travelled
and the paths i forged.
i will show her the places that shaped me
as they sing the names of every person i ever loved.
she will hold my hand as she leads me further,
and we will greet what comes next together. 

Victoria Perrie

A two-spirit Métis-Cree lawyer and artist, Victoria’s expertise transcends traditional boundaries, integrating law and art with a passion for Indigenous empowerment. Victoria holds a Juris Doctor and a Bachelor of Arts, supplemented by invaluable mentorship from influential Indigenous artists. Her legal acumen is recognized through her calls to the Nunavut, Manitoba, and New Brunswick Bars. Her artistic journey spans over 26 years in theatre, where she has excelled as a director, playwright, poet, and actor, fostering a unique blend of legal and artistic narratives. Her work reflects a deep commitment to justice, education, and the arts, all essential to building empowered, thriving Indigenous communities. Today, Victoria practices criminal law in Nunavut and Manitoba, maintains a small arts practice in poetry and theatre, and supports access to justice initiatives across the country.

Womb

Davis and Roy v His Majesty the King, 2023 SCBC [1]

 

I breathe in deep through my stomach and feel the soft padded walls around me
holding me tight, warm and safe
I belong here – even with my eyes still shut


Mother sings vibrations echoing around my body, cocooning me tighter with love
makes me laugh and stretch out in this little womb room just for me

I’m lucky this house was able to host – not unknowingly ripped out while her eyes were forced closed


I sink into her deep pink flesh
and slide my soft keratin nails across the inner lining of her uterus
I trace the design of the name she has chosen for me – Cedar


Etchings in the plasma will deliver me sacred and blessed
This womb tells me stories of my rights on the outside

Whispers risks of reversing R v Morgentaler[2]


I know from here I’ll need the ancestors
Twist and cross my webbed fingers like braided sweetgrass promising to protect me
Can’t I stay with you a little while more?

 

I emerge onto a bed of sage, tasting crisp ocean air in the back of my throat

Born with a fist full of tobacco

I am ready


[1] Class action lawsuit in BC seeking remedy for Indigenous womb holders who underwent forced and coerced sterilizations and abortions at the hands of provincial medical officials.

[2] Supreme Court of Canada decision declaring criminalization of abortion to be contrary to section 7 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms – the right to life, liberty, and security of the person.

Bethany Alyson Whiteknife

I am Bethany Whiteknife and a proud member of the Mikisew Cree First Nation. Growing up off the reserve has taught me the importance of culture and tradition. I actively practice various traditions including beading, cooking, hunting, practicing the Cree language, and learning from the land. These teachings and traditions have helped me feel closer to my culture and homeland while being away in the city attending university. I am currently working on more poetry, in hopes of publishing a book.

Injustice

I am my mother’s daughter
Our ancestor’s blood flows through my veins,
Their injustice bears my soul like chains.


They took our children from the land
Now they take the land from our children
They fought for our demise

While we fought to survive
‘Injustice’ is not enough to explain what we’ve been through


We will fight for what they were not able
The system we will disable
For I am my mother’s daughter

Farrah Cardinal

Farrah Cardinal is a mother, daughter, sister, aunt and friend. She has three beautiful children, 2 boys and 1 girl. Farrah works as an assessor for a Delegated First Nation Agency, she is a graduate from Blue Quills University with a Masters Degree in Social Work.

My wish for you…..

My wish for you

Is to pick medicine off your own land

Is to attend ceremony where gratitude and acceptance surrounds you

My wish for you

Is to be around the language, to hear language, to remember the language

Is to learn to love yourself because you are beautiful and special

My wish for you

Is to Walk mother earth and to feel her healing energy

Is to not crumble when you are tested

My wish for you

Is to have meaningful relationships

Is to bear unconditional love

My wish for you

Is to over come anger

Is to face your fears

My wish for you

Is to make sense of the loss

To realize that none of this is your fault

My wish for you is

To see history as a way out

To learn where the real fault lies

My wish for you

Is to reclaim your truth and to search for identity

Is to reacquaint with your own wisdom

My wish for you

Is to know who you are as an indigenous person

 

Is to recognize the beauty of our people

My wish for you

Is to see that education is the way out

Is to seek out all knowledge

My wish for you

Is to have patience

Is to have strong boundaries

My wish for you

Is to own your identity

Is to embrace who you are

My wish for you

Is to find your purpose

Is to embraces your gifts from creator

My wish for you

Is to surround yourself with those you connect with

Is to allow yourself to feel vulnerable

My wish for you

Is to become best friends with Creator

Is to practice prayer

My wish for you

Is to seek your gifts from creator

Is to share your gifts

Lastly, My wish for you

Is that you are guided to align with your purest heart

Is that you connect with peace and harmony.

Thamer Rose Linklater

Thamer Linklater is Asiniskaw Ithiniwak (Rocky Cree) from NCN Cree Nation in Northern Manitoba. They work and reside in Nogojinawong Peterborough Ontario. They are a land defender, poet, artist and researcher.

Shadows, Running

I can feel them creeping closer

the shadows stalking me

that not even the sun can dim

 

they’re cold like arctic ice

quiet frozen like the dead of night

black holes swallowing all

 

I’ve been running so long

starting to tire

tried so many flotation devices

intertwining bodies

            heat distracting

burning liquid

            inhibitions falling

teddy bear gummies

            spaced out laughter

moving pictures

            time wasting

fancy markers

            vibrant colours

endless scrolling

            strangers drama

not sure I can recall

exactly where this all started

 

I can still feel them creeping closer

 

A hundred reasons to keep fighting

ancestors

            strength

spirit guides

            wisdom

unmarked graves

the murdered and the missing

            remember

these words

            that microphone

mom, aunts, nieces

dad, uncles, nephews

they’re getting closer now

tired

creeping

can’t give in

 

so tired

Rebecca Thomas

Rebecca Thomas is an award winning Mi’kmaw writer of things. Sometimes they are poems, sometimes they are childrens’ books and sometimes they are love notes for family and friends. But they are always done with purpose and intention. She is a registered band member of Lennox Island First Nation in Epekwitk. Her ultimate goal is to take up space as an Indigenous woman in a world where they aren’t as valued or worthy as other groups of people. Rebecca dares you to tell her to be smaller and see what happens. She has been the Poet Laureate of Halifax and caregiver to her father who is a survivor of the Shubenacadie Residential School. She has performed with the Halluci Nation, Symphony Nova Scotia, and has spoken and lectured at conferences and coffee houses from coast to coast. Her first book I’m Finding My Talk has been shortlisted for the First Nations Community Reads Award. Her most recent collection of poetry called “I place you into the fire” was listed as one of CBC’s top 20 books of 2020. Her book “Swift Fox All Along” was a finalist for the 2020 Governor General’s Award for children’s literature. She has an upcoming children’s book called “Grampy’s Chair” is set to be released in September of 2024. She pays her bills by helping students who are overwhelmed with life and studies as a Student Services Advisor at the Nova Scotia Community College.

Age Gracefully

I am less than thrilled that I can see where my face is starting to sag.
Where my collagen production has started to lag.
I wasn’t aware of how many crows have walked in the corners of my eyes.
I am frustrated by the pebbled landscape of my thighs.
The wisps of grey that are emerging in my black hair are bold declarations that my youth is waning.
Because in spite of myself, I am aging.
My feet will ache if I wear the wrong pair of shoes.
I often seek hot packs to soothe.
A sore muscle here, creaky joint there.
My knuckles bulge and my chin has more hair.
I am closer to last blood than first.
My skin always thirsts.
My breasts yearn to be closer to the ground.
The corners of my mouth slowly creep down.
Gravity keeps playing.
And never lets me forget that I am aging.
I am frustrated by new social media apps.
I keep my hands folded in my lap.
Saturday mornings are no longer for cartoons.
Instead, I drink tea and read the news.
I see young faces that look like mine, minus all the fine lines.
Held static forever. Trapped in time.
Her disappearance is someone’s byline.
And I am raging.
Because unlike her, I AM aging.
Joy gets to leave her lasting presence in my skin.
I have time yet to scar, birth, and sing.
I will experience my last blood.
I will have time to be loved.
I get to fail, and try, and laugh, and cook, and feel pain.
I get to do all of this stuff
Because, unlike her, I am lucky enough to age.

Mary Josephine Small

Josephine Small is from the Ermineskin Cree Nation in Maskwacis, Alberta. She is a proud okawimaw, (mother), kokom (grandmother), chapan ( great grandmother), and has had a rewarding career as a teacher for the past 30 years. Josephine uses poetry as a means of self-healing and won herself second place in a KEMOSA Scholarship in 2023 for First Nation, Metis & Inuit Mothers Who Write.

GUM STUCK IN MY HAIR

This is about my granddaughter Ava stealing my bubble gum from my purse


I’m Ava and I love bubble gum

Double Bubble is so yum


My nokom chews that purple Thrills gum that tastes like soap
When I ask for for some, she just says “nope”


So one day I stole her Thrills
Because for my sweet tooth, chewing gum just fills


When nokom asked me who stole her gum, I didn’t dare tell
Even though like gum my breath did smell


Without thinking, I blew a gum bubble as big as my face
Then it popped and got stuck all over the place


My nokom acted like she didn’t care
I had gum stuck in my hair


She just gave me that “ look”
And I just stood there and shook


As my nokom walked away I heard her say
“Well I guess you’ll have gum in your hair on picture day”


“And when you graduate high school,
That gum in your hair will look real cool”


“And even when you get a job
That gum in your hair will be one big blob”


“And if you ever plan to wed,
That gum will still be stuck in your head”


My little life flashed before my eyes
That’s what I get for stealing and telling lies


My nokom let me suffer like this for a while
But I saw her trying hard not to laugh or smile


Much later in the day she called me to sit on a chair
And used cooking spray to get the gum out of my hair


It felt like she was pulling my brains out of my head
But I didn’t care, I still had more of her gum under my bed.


*(Nokom is my grandmother in Cree)

Colleen Esther Charlette

Colleen Charlette is a member of the Peter Ballantyne Cree Nation. Colleen’s creative goal is to write her first book of poetry and publish it. She has been a board member of the Saskatchewan Anskohk Writers Circle Inc. for thirteen years where her craft-honing of poetry and performance advances.

Abrasive Love

That girl she loved fiercely


Passion like plasma flowed through her veins


Her rage was spring-loaded from all the PTSD


She had over-sacrificed


She gave until it hurt her


Almost to the point of no return


When there might be no rallying back


–partial recovery at best


A love intervention was in order


Patience wasn’t thin; it was anorexic and anemic


The fuse is short and it can’t get any shorter

Cara-Lyn Morgan

Cara-Lyn Morgan is the author of three books of poetry. Her latest collection, Building A Nest From the Bones of My People (Invisible Press) was nominated for an Indigenous Voices Award in 2024.

Bannock/Bake

I do not measure my flour.  I do not measure

anything and so I’m afraid I can not teach

you.  You’ll have to watch, as I did.  Watch

and feel.  The amount of the flour doesn’t matter

I empty it straight from the bag, wait for the plume

of dust to settle.  It covers the countertops, dulls

the shelves.  Everything looks unclean. 

 

I add about four palms worth

of baking powder. A pinch of salt.  Use the backs

of my fingers to mix the dry, then wipe my hands

clean on the sides of my pants. Do not tell the ancestors

that I also use yeast.  That is the secret, blooming

the yeast in warm water until it is frothy, then add

to the dry.  My excuse is my colonized mind.  My excuse

is I do not know better.  I do not know anything.

 

I use hot water for mixing, which vexes

your grandfather.  When we make Bake, he says, you

use ice water.  Always ice water, never hot.   He feels

we are thieving something

when we make the Bannock.  Refuses to believe

these are the same.  That the bannock and the Bake

filled starved bellies, the bellies of the enslaved

and the bellies of the enfranchised.  It was the gift

of our captors and we used it to gain strength.

 

I carry this hunger

in my cells.  You carry this starvation memory,

that we brag about at pow wows.  Who makes

the best fry-bread.  At potlucks, who fries the best

Bake. I add creamed coconut, grated

from the block when we are having buljol

and I leave it out when there’s moose to stew. 

 

For both, I fry in cast iron.  I fry in crisco. I do not

measure, just pull handfuls of dough from the mound,

flatten it on the countertop and lay it

in the oil.  I use a fork to turn it, I salt it the second

it comes off the pan.

 

Bannock is best dipped into soup,

Bake, stuffed with shark meat, onion, and cilantro.

Hope Engel

Hope Engel is Turtle Clan, Oklahoma Choctaw, Chickasaw and Cherokee, living in Kitchener, Ontario. In collaboration with Kevin Wesaquate, SK, she coordinates the Ontario chapter of Indigenous Poets Society (IPS). IPS published Mihko Kiskisiwin Blood Memory (Cree) with Friesen Press in May 2024 with partnership funds from SVP (Social Venture Partners) and Waterloo Upstream Fund. IPS is publishing a First Edition of PowRed, an “IndigArts” (Indigenous Art and Literature) ‘Zine of Turtle Island, in partnership with SaskArts.

Belonging

Being               Longing

Longing to be

To be seen                   See you                       To be seen truly

Longing as Being         Being as Longing         infinitely intertwined

Longing for connection           Longing for home      

Here and home but not home

From Longing to being            Longing is part of being          Being artful longing

 

Not Longing as Abjection, experienced as unseen & unheard

Invisible in the Mirrors of your gaze

Not an outsider, alienated, othered, erased from the Story

Criminalized pathologized brutalized marginalized forgotten, 

Not Separate & divided up in parts

Existence forced violently to the Borders, cut by razor wire and our own laterally violent words

Unnamed & unknown, Our murdered missing bodies lost, dis-membered, longing for belonging

No one to tell our stories

 

I, in my words, my story, assert I am here     visible Being “human being”

seen by another, named, known, re-membered, part of you, of complete care communities

Here, Now, you see me, truly see me , I see you too             Being Human

We are Creator’s intentions manifested together

The Liminal realized, spirit spark that exists at the centre in this circle of life

 

Belonging, I am still here        We are still here together

I did not forget, we did not forget      I know who I am, you know who you are

I stand home here, my feet heart mind soul firmly rooted to the ground,

& with all creation, as you do

with all our relatives   The beings I belong to & who belong to me

We belong to each other for infinity,

My home is here         Wherever I am

 

I belong here with you   Without you I do not belong   Together we are a perfect infinity symbol

I’m deeply rooted, rooted long in time in space        longing between time and space       Being

With you on the land, our first mother,

Longing for places I know in my imagination     Being in imagined communities alive & realized

Making home real everywhere, for me and for everyone.

A world where everyone belongs      together          one world

 

We belong by sharing our stories, we co-create infinite circles

Our stories, our worlds give us belonging, with each other  witness-testimony      ceremony

In our eyes a co-creative act sharing listening memories and hearts

Re- membering ourselves with each other – words as physical evidence

“I see you” grants being longing and belonging

It takes being and longing to know belonging

Belonging is inherent rootedness space and grace we give ourselves & each other in our gaze, words, listening, as we share our stories,

it has is and will always be here, in language. This is power – words create world

Our stories create belonging, existence, resistance, being

Relational words from long ago and from the future call us forth, transform creation

Shared Being Creates Belonging.

Miranda Hanus

Miranda Hanus of Regina, Saskatchewan, is a former broadcast journalist venturing into the realm of fiction. A member of the Standing Buffalo Dakota Nation, she currently has a poem -‘Chub’- published in the Indigenous Poets Society Anthology “mihko-kiskiwin – Blood Memory” by Friesen Press.

Diluted Indigeneity

Our bloodlines grow thinner

While government numbers grow

All the colonial-inspired apocalypti 

My People have survived

Pestilence, starvation, environmental devastation 

Bureaucracy, capitalism, and processed foods will be our last stand

Weren’t the artists supposed to bring back the nations?

I only see the cons

Namely reconciliation

Where’s the pros

The Truth  

The Buffalo Hunters and the Warriors and the Matriarchs and 

the True Keepers of Wisdom

Fading 

Yet Alive 

In Memory

In Government Vaults

Like the stolen treasure 

from an Indiana Jones adventure

Chantal Kyplain

Chantal Kyplain is a Métis mother of two and poet from Île-à-la-Crosse (Sakitawak), born and raised in Saskatoon. She finds solace and inspiration in reading and writing poetry, drawing influence from Sylvia Plath, Warsan Shire, and Anaïs Nin. In addition to her literary pursuits, Chantal is learning acoustic guitar and has recently taken up beading. Through her art, she seeks to express her emotions and share her experiences with the world, helping others feel seen and understood.

how to heal

i wanted to be soft;

like dew drops on top of

wildflowers,

silent; whispering; lonely; inviting
instead i was hard;
like thunder crying after
lightening,
(like our ancestors…)
obnoxious (they said); too loud (they said); angry; suffering
but after the deep, low rumbles of thunder; the suffering,
was the bright, blinding lightening strikes; the cries, the hot tears
then there was an opening,
a clear sky; a meaning…
the message,
a crow
cawing in the distance,
“not everything is as it seems,
not everything glitters is gold”
only when i was lost did i find myself,
wandering, wondering…
always learning
(kâkikî ati kaskihtâw)
…learning how to heal

Jamesie Taligvat Evaluardjuk Fournier

Jamesie Fournier is an Inuit poet from the Northwest Territories living in Iqaluit, NU. His debut fiction, ‘The Other Ones’, was published in 2022 with Inhabit Media and his 2023 poetry collection, ‘Elements’, is a finalist for the 2024 Indigenous Voices Award. In 2023, Jamesie was part of Inuit Future’s Artist Incubator Project, the Audible Indigenous Writer’s Circle, and NBC’s Universal Indigenous Screenwriting Program.

 

In 2023 I moved to Iqaluit, Nunavut to start learning my culture’s language, Inuktitut. I enjoyed playing with language and turning my lessons into poetry. Qilannguaq is a love letter acquainting myself with Inuktitut creatively.

Qilannguaq - Just Like Heaven

Qallutik: Water dipper
-nnguaq(-): Likeness
Qallutinnguaq: Big Dipper
Qilak: Sky, Heavens


Ex:
QiIlammi mumiqqaujuguk.
We danced in the sky.
Qallutinnguaq uvangalu,

The Big Dipper and I,
Pualukittuq,
The one who has lost his mitt.


Stardust spins like snow globes
as we turn
foolish
              foolish
                             am I


smiling underneath streetlights
as we progressive step like
chessmen across the board to
greet each other upon the hesitation steps.
Pausing in this happy valley,
this rocking cradle asway
at the end of worlds.


Iqaumaniaqtunga,
I will remember,
qungagusiit, the way you’d smile
a wondrous hook into my heart.
Pulling me


Close.
            Closer.
                          Closest.


Qanittuq.
                 Qaninniqsaq.
                                          Qanilaaq.

Emma-Leigh Snow

Tan’si Emma nitisîyihkâson I’m a Métis student at the University of Alberta in Edmonton. Majoring in Sociology, minoring in Native Studies. Along side school I volunteer with the Indigenous Students Union on campus as their VP finance. Outside of school I work as an outdoor tour guide for Painted Warriors and Mahikan Trails. Through this work I am able to connect and build stronger relationships with the land and all relations. Along with poetry I participate in my art community as a beader, digital designer and performer.

 

When I wrote this poem, the plan was never to share it. Frustrated by my experience in the Canadian justice system, searching for safety, only to be retraumatized. This poem was a release of my emotions, validating my experience. Most days, these days, the past feels like another life separate from this one, but things happened, and it changed me. Life today is evidence of growth, a reminder that even through concrete, flowers grow. 

Time Does Not Heal All Wounds

I count the years
But it makes no difference


I cry my tears
But nobody listens


Safety
Is what I am missing


Falling back down the same hole
I’m tripping


I mean it’s no wonder why
The images are replaying


Every detail i practiced line by line
I’m relaying


For every court day
I kept saying


Over and over

Tripping

Replaying

Relaying


Because she said he said doesn’t make a difference


What do you mean my voice is conflicting

I was almost a missing


This stand is a prison

The lawyers are guards 

The judge a warden


Court is adjourned 

But no verdict was reached


They said one more court day

And your sentence is complete


4 years later no justice impeached


Over and over

Tripping 

Replaying

Relaying


I didn’t ask to be in this position


It was my lack of suspicion

Or maybe it was my predisposition


Too nice is a demolition

Of a life with no intuition

Agar Haineault

K.$TONE

Agar Haineault, also known as K.$TONE is an esteemed artist from Clearwater River & La Loche. Drawing from his Denesuline heritage, K.$TONE evokes strong emotion with his raw writing style.

untitled

I was born in the sky of a dying language

 

From The shiver of cold basements

 

Broken love from a family’s embrace

 

I’m from the savory taste of steaks off paper plates

 

From deafening silence of placements from incarceration

 

Results from a culture of gypsies living under sanctions

 

 

I left,

 

But still hear the roaring quads in the distance

 

pumping hot monster truck pistons

 

The deep rooted cry of a assimilated Christians

 

Whispers from a system tryna convince me

 

False depictions All my people wrongfully convicted

 

 

I’m from the drunken sizzle of bacon and eggs at 4 in the morning

 

I’ve befriended lost change in the cushions from couch surfing,

 

 

I’m from where the cops are the biggest gangster’s

 

Beat you in the cells with hatred on they’re racist faces

 

Assuming every native is affiliated and dangerous,

 

 

I’m from TV’s
Telling me criminals are everything they’re perceiving,

 

But I could tell you
Bout a couple killers who had the decency to feed me.

D.A. Lockhart

D.A. Lockhart is the author of multiple collections of poetry and short fiction. His work has been shortlisted for the Trillium Book Award, Raymond Souster Award, Indiana Author’s Awards, First Nations Communities READ Award, and has been a finalist for the ReLit Award. His work has appeared widely throughout Turtle Island including, The Malahat Review, Grain, CV2, TriQuarterly, The Fiddlehead, ARC Poetry Magazine, Best Canadian Poetry, Best New Poetry from the Midwest, and Belt. Along the way his work has garnered numerous Pushcart Prize nominations, National Magazine Award nominations, and Best of the Net nominations. He is a graduate of the Indiana University – Bloomington MFA in Creative Writing program where he held a Neal-Marshall Graduate Fellowship in Creative Writing. He is pùkuwànkoamimëns of the Moravian of the Thames First Nation. Lockhart currently resides at Waawiiyaatanong and Pelee Island.

Waterwolves Restless,
Stir Silt into the Stillness of Morning

This land, these waters that touch it, they shelter itinerant shadows, Al.

 

All waters shall inundate the land, floods are inevitable whether upon a turtle’s back or upon an ocean sphere, we must know those bubbles of darkness shall one day glide against us.

 

Today they are restless, growing.

 

Across the bay, the Nation murmurs to outsiders that the waters know and trust only them, treaty holders.

 

And land thieves and their apologists are the reason that the ancient ones return.

 

For treaty, for the salvation of the earth from the worst monsters.

 

Kwekonkale lurk among shadow pools.

 

Hungry for those willing to prod at deeper waters, challenge the monsters who once stood in lieu of unnatural laws, They long for a Prince Edward before loyalists, before forests, drumlines, dunes, and winding parkways.

 

They are the opening melody that will not leave.

 

And the song of their flesh against warming and spreading waters, is the music that will not end, no matter that speed boats, no matter the tourist traffic jams.

Alexander Ernest Allary

loudvoice

loudvoice is a champion slam poet and hip hop musician. His work centers around his nêhiyawak existence, love, the dark, integration, recovery and spirituality.

Day ain't Break yet

A lot of the paths and choices that fate placed for me to make have been so tragic, so toxic, so inherently loaded


I am so existentially exhausted and lonely I want to shave some life off and live inside of a bottle but my liver can no longer afford the rent there


Peace, serenity, joy

.. someday


It’s been 38 years of free climbing up a mountain face with no instructions
Just my crucible childhood C-PTSD


So maybe a lil breather at a plateau is worth it
Or maybe I’ll fall off the edge of the cliff for being too nervous


I need to achieve exemplary status as a high achiever in capitalism .. I GUESS?


I need to get the fuck out of the trenches


The indigenous assimilation agenda that is still very insidiously active looks like all the violence, ODs and poverty just outside my door


I wonder if the ones I get asked to call the ambulance for survive and make it


Do they have children, partners or parents?


So what if all they know is street lifer kinship
And how to add to or decrease it’s merits


The other night someone came skulking towards me with a collapsable baton in hand


But something unseen knocked the weapon out of his grip


Someone prayed for me in a lodge, offered tobacco and tied broadcloth around a tree somewhere out there on the land


Something pads and eases my landings when I trip


I am born of the abyss


Spirit world umbilical cords, deep sea research centres, and interstellar drifts


I am not acclimated to driven focus and goals, baby step checklists, direction nor domestic bliss


But there is something so gratifying and validating about a butterfly seeing my still body and finding a place to sit

Nicholas Old Shoes

Donny Sage

Nicholas old shoes, also know as Donny Sage is a Blackfoot artist whom uses his past traumas to write music and inspire others who grew up in similar circumstances.

Im lost, Im Five.

The definition of my insanity


Repeating the same cycle


and expecting a different outcome…..


Im tired Of running in circles


Trying so hard Just get to the end


The feeling is claustrophobic …


Like im 5 years old Being trapped in a


Closet by my brother


Darkness


Saved by an angel


For a split second


Everything is fine


Then…


Reality sets in


Im hungry


Tired…


Scared…


Lost…..


Im five years old


And ive already experienced


So much …..


Depression


Im lost…


Im five…

 

 

Lice infested


Hear my message


Times are different


now but i was effected


Disrespected


Runt of the family


Whats expected


Of me


Perfection?


Years neglected


By the woman who made me


Why do you hate me


I just want acceptance


I dont want to learn the hard way


Mom whats my lesson


In the future


You will say


That i was always meant for greatness


I hate this sentence


Im five


And please Kill me now

 

I hate the present


Its the past


And im lost


Moms sauced


Im sitting criss crossed


Waiting for her by the door


Like im a freaking! dog!


She called us puppies


And drank the money


Bottled trauma


Youngest out of six


Joeseph please quit hitting


Your baby momma


Im sleeping


With my shoes on


And im five


My feet are infected


Because i dont know how to take a bath


Its been weeks


I havent ate in a couple of day


I feel weak


Im tired of being abused


When i speak


The truth i know it hurts


But why me


Why me


Why me.

Mike "O'dah ziibing" Ashkewe

Mike “O’dah ziibing / Heart of the river” Ashkewe is from Neyaashiinigmiing, Ont. Mike is a disability and Indigenous activist in the city of Guelph. Mike has had a career in the media since 2007 in a variety of different roles, such as commentator, reporter and podcaster.

Gifted

Gentle winds carry ancient whispers of knowledge from Creator


Rivers and lakes sing songs that blood remembers and lulls us into loving slumber


Fluttering of leaves of ageless trees calls to the wild beautiful magic infused into our spirits.


Memories of starry nights bathed in celestial magnificence fill the heart with wonder


Bonfires lit with grandfather’s spirit warm us and cradle us as we listen eagerly to tales of the ancestors who came before us within the crackling of flames


Soothing sounds of the wild inspire us from the smallest of creatures to the most majestic of Creator’s animal friends.


We are the first people gifted with bravery, love and immeasurable knowledge and wills that will never be broken.


I am thankful to be taught by ancestors of the past, the inheritors of a future yet to come and beauty of the life that i breathe everyday.

January Rogers

January Rogers is Mohawk/Tuscarora, living on Six Nations of the Grand River Territory in Ontario. The poem was written while on holiday in Miami Florida for her 61st birthday in January 2024. January travels alone most times as travel always inspires her to write. January is an established poet with seven published poetry titles and one published play. January often mentors other Indigenous writers and manages a very small publishing label supporting writers from her Six Nations community.

Precious Human Interactions

Even steam engines
Passing through
Are themselves
Sovereign spaces
With station and domain
And most definitely
Holding protocol
People of transience
Claim they too
Have rules without
Roots moving
From here to there

 

What does it take
To come to terms
And bare witness
One must maintain
A casual yet alert
Confindence
Godd Bless
Suggested in passing
A finger kiss blown
In exchange
This is human interaction
As deep and authentic
As the mighty Atlantic

 

We are all in a boat
In the middle of nowhere
How does it feel
To be landless
Forget the coordinates
you are in the right place
Wherever you are
Just mind your manners
Acknowledge yourself
I acknowledge we are gathered here
Nowhere in particular
But in a place called time
And that time is called
Togetherness
true connectedness
A place we’ll recall as memory
Make the memory with me
Make the memory
Good

 

the tiny cerebral
in between places
where our visions
get born is
you guessed it
territory too
love your thought babies
name them don’t doubt them
when inspiration
brings them

 

here, we have zero tolerance
for neglected motivations
if you know what to do
then you must do it
the voices aren’t
going to hang around forever
they’ve got places to go
other doorbells to ring
so answer yours
we are boundless
beautiful turtles
carrying etiquettes everywhere with us
sharing by showing
not telling just knowing
we are here, helping each other
with precious
human interactions

Kaleigh River

Aramenko

Kaleigh River Aramenko is from Ile a la Crosse, SK on Treaty 10 Territory. She is adopted with family ties in Sturgeon Lake and Wahpeton Dakota Nation. She is a Nēhiyaw Iskwēw. She is a mother, poet, writer, and Intimate partner violence Survivor who uses her poetry and social media platform to heal & raise awareness.

waniska

I swear that I can remember
when the sweet grass burns
and the skies clear
my Capan speaking to me
whispering
telling me in Cree
that it’s okay for me to breathe deeply
reminders
memories
of who I’ve been
before
they’re fleeting
coming into my mind
when I choose to sit still
observing
trusting in the knowing
they never left
we can never forget
for as long as the sun shines
They said
we would be here
the rivers still flow
the sweetgrass still grows
revealing themselves
when we are ready
and not before
never too late
open your eyes
allow yourself to cry more
to release that hurt when you need to
don’t let the grief get stuck
move and create
it’s never too late
to get up and try again
to be who you were born to be
You are the good medicine
that we so desperately need
so keep showing up
my Capan said it’s time to wake up
waniska

Connor Lafortune

G’chi Waabshka Mukwa

Connor Lafortune is from Dokis First Nation on Robinson Huron Treaty territory of 1850 in Northeastern Ontario. He works primarily in Life Promotion, harm-reduction, mental health, and Indigenous education. He completed his Bachelor’s Degree at Nipissing University with a Double Honors Major in Indigenous Studies and Gender Equality and Social Justice. He is currently in the Masters in Indigenous Relations at Laurentian University. Connor is Anishinaabek, Queer, and Francophone; he uses his understanding of the world to shape his creations as a writer, spoken word poet, and musician. Connor often combines the written word with traditional Indigenous beadwork and sewing to recreate the stories of colonization, showcase resilience, and imagine a new future. He recently released a single in collaboration with Juno Award winner G.R. Gritt titled “Qui crie au loup ? ft. Connor Lafortune.” Above all else, Connor is an activist, a shkaabewis (helper), and a compassionate human being.

survival

the day the earth broke open
our braids untangled
our bodies shut down

 

‘cut down’ the trees they said
we’ll sell all the lumber
we were not afforded the luxury of crumbling

 

we rebraided our hair
pinned it down tight this time
they could no longer undo it

 

‘cut down’ their power
put them into bite-size pieces
we can sell them in parts

 

the day the earth broke open
we put away our comfort foods
and never found them again

 

‘cut down’ each strand
we can sell their stories
we were careful and loud

 

letting only the earth
reverb our sadness
we built whole lakes with our tears
we never made a sound

 

the day the earth broke open
my auntie put away her flair
she placed it in a box
titled it ‘survival’

 

she put herself in that box too
said ‘open me when it’s safe’
it was never safe

 

we opened it anyway

and when we did,
it smelt of home,
of the burnt taste of fire leaves on your clothes.

 

it was safety,
a blanket sheltering us from the cold,
the soothing sensation of a cup of cedar tea on winter days.

 

it was big,
bigger than the weight it carried,
whole Nations gathered to hear the crackle in her voice.

 

it was black and burnt and smokey.
hints of maroon filled the air,
the sweetest candy i’ve ever tasted.

 

sage and tobacco,
sweetgrass and cedar,

 

dancing in the darkness of her flame.
we danced too,
found ourselves singing,

 

put it back into the box,
said ‘open me when you want to find home,’

 

titled it ‘knowledge,’

 

never closed it again.

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