In July 2000 New Dance Horizons in Regina Saskatchewan put together a presentation for “Dance and the Child International”. It consisted of dance, song and poetry performed by about thirty young people many from Canada’s First Nations. I had the privilege of coaching and guiding them as they wrote their own poems.
This is the story of the teachers and young people involved.
This poem references the experience of First Nations children who were systematically stripped of their culture and language in Canada’s residential schools. Today is set aside in the spirit of Truth and Reconciliation and marked by the wearing of orange shirts in memory of one young girl’s experience.
When someone passes away, many Native people say that they do not die, but instead “walk on.” This implies a continuation of a journey rather than an endpoint on a linear path.
https://www.findagrave.com/cemetery/2340627/dakota-(sioux)-memorial—1862 After listening to the bishop and personally reviewing the trial records, Lincoln commuted the death sentence for all but thirty-eight prisoners. At 10 am on December 26, 1862, the condemned men, chanting the Dakota deathsong, marched in single file to a scaffold guarded by 1,400 troops in full battle dress.
QU’APPELLE AND ESL
(Cree – Kah-tep-was “The river that calls”)
They come today
from countries far away
to learn this country’s
names for river, lake, and tree
There was a time
the natives of this land
sat in these same desks
in de-braided fear
learning to forget them