Friday, May 8, 2015

Once You Were Warriors


First Nations in Nuu Chah Nulth Territory
Hashilthsa.com photo

Once you were warriors,
free and brave upon the land,
living with the forest and the sea
in harmony.

Now I drive through the reserve
where the government put you,
see the imposed poverty,
a landscape that makes it hard
to dream.

In the eyes of your elders,
I see pain:
the memory of residential school,
the worry that your language 
and your culture might die out.
They have lived one hundred years
of painful history.
They have suffered much.

In the next generation,
I see the defeat
visited upon some of your people
by poverty, addictions, generational trauma.
Yet also, I watch, with joy,
a spirit rising,
that says
"Our culture is our greatest strength,
and we will honor it."

In the eyes of your children,
starting the day with strength and pride,
drumming the sacred drums,
holding the feathered wing,
chanting the prayer to the Creator 
for a good day,
the pride of heritage will live
into another generation,
one in which hope and dreams are strong and limitless:
that you will rise up
and be warriors
- with your message for living 
in peace and harmony with the land -
once again.

This morning, my friends, I drove Sebastian to school and waited to hear the drumming and singing with which the Haahuupayak School begins their day. I am happy to see a strong love for culture surviving the abuses heaped upon First Nations people since Europeans arrived on these shores. In the shining eyes and smiles of the children, in the leadership and strength of the teachers, I see great promise of a day when First Nations truly will rise again, proud and free upon the land. They are rising now, all across Canada in the Idle No More movement. For they know the way we have used the land is not sustainable. They have much to teach us about sustainable living, if we only listen.

8 comments:

  1. I'm glad that they're holding on to the traditions. Sometimes, that's all we have.

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  2. Traditions must not be lost.
    peace and harmony...what every one should hope

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  3. Wonderful empowering words and dreams in your poem. I would love for the children to have better choices--both in preserving the traditional culture and taking part in the main stream without prejudice.

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  4. Bravo for the First Nations, Sherry!

    May they rise again even more strongly than before!

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  5. First Nation's voice shall not be silenced for the echoes can be heard from the days of yore when before the europeans came. and in the history of this land when the last tree is standing and the eagle sits perched upon its limb and the wolf at its base howls at the moon singing the praises of the First Nations' breath.

    wonderful reminder, mi amiga

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  6. love the title...and the gradual rising...

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Thank you so much. I will be over to see you soon!