Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The Journey of Nishiyuu

What a story! What a story I have for you today, kids!!!!!!!!

At Poets United, for Verse First, Kim has set us the prompt: Passion. Monday's leading news story here in Canada fills the bill. It stirs my heart with passion, pride, inspiration, humility and sadness, at the lengths to which our beautiful and HEROIC First Nations people have to go, to try to get an apparently uncaring government to recognize their plight. My poem will follow, but I will try to nutshell it here - the newsbyte above gives the broader story. It will warm the cockles of your heart. Warning: it may also make you weep!

Chief Theresa Spence - Globe and Mail photo

You may remember Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence's wintertime hunger strike in front of Parliament, requesting a meeting with Prime Minister Stephen Harper. She wished to plead for assistance for her impoverished people, many of whom are living in Third World conditions in  the frozen north, in  one of the most affluent countries in the world. The P.M. refused to meet with her, one on one, but did find the time to welcome Justin Bieber to Ottawa. (Yes, my teeth are gnashing.) Her heroism inflamed the Idle No More movement that spread like wildfire all across Canada. She finally appealed to the United Nations International Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. No results yet on that appeal.

David Kawapit - CBC photo

Up north in the  James Bay Cree community of Whapmagoostui, a seventeen year old youth, David Kawapit, decided to walk through January's blizzards, on snowshoes, to the doors of Parliament, to raise awareness of the issues facing aboriginal youth. Six people and a guide, named the Cree Walkers, began their journey, the Journey of Nishiyuu (Journey of the People), and, as they walked, others joined  till they were 400 strong. By the time they reached Capital Hill Monday, thousands more arrived. 

Sean Atleo, the National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, addressed the crowd. "We talk about youth as the leaders of tomorrow. I'm here to tell you, these are the leaders of Right Now!" The crowd roared in agreement.

P.M. Harper was - unsurprisingly - in Toronto, rather than on-site to meet with the youth.

The news item immediately following this, said the government is accepting a "gift" of two pandas, to "celebrate the friendly relations between Canada and China". It will cost EIGHT BILLION DOLLARS to bring the pandas here and care for them, since they require bamboo to eat, to survive. (Who knew bamboo was so expensive?)

I love pandas, but cant help thinking that eight billion dollars would improve the living conditions of the First Peoples of our land.  Possibly THEY could eat better, then, too. What does this say about this government's totally screwed up priorities?

The question remains: will this government EVER bring this strong, ancient and beautiful people into their share of the Canadian dream? Stay tuned. 

Journey of the People reaches Parliament Hill
photo by Andrew Foote/CBC

My haibun:

The Cree walkers began their lonely trek in the bitter January cold of a northern winter. On snowshoes, one step after another, they walked 1600 kilometres. They walked and, as they walked, the small flickering ember in their hearts took hold, growing greater than the cold.

My heart walks with
their every footstep.

Across the snowy miles they marched, to shine a light on the plight of their people,  the many who live in unheated shacks, without electricity or water, the many others  in poverty and lack of hope in the future ~ Third World conditions in the midst of an affluent society. And as they walked, others joined them.

My heart walks with
their every footstep.

They walked through blizzards, the Siberian wind at their backs, and as they walked, their numbers slowly grew. They were marching to Parliament Hill, to ask the dominant society for a share of the Canadian dream.

My heart walks with
their every footstep.

They walked, more coming from far and wide, and as they walked, their hearts took fire. They marched, now, to the beat of the drum. They walked, chiefs in full headdress, young braves who needed a future to keep them from despair, young ones with sudden hope in their hearts, world-weary Old Ones, who had  endured a century of pain and poverty, broken treaties, unfulfilled promises, placations and deferments. They walked, newly invigorated by the passion in the young peoples' hearts, at the scope of their dreams.

And my heart walks with
their every footstep.

They walked, four hundred strong, to the very doors of Parliament, joined by thousands more, who cheered and wept with them. Thousands of flaming hearts, on behalf of all of their people, who had waited so long in poverty, pain and despair, for their rightful, proud and honored place on the Canadian landscape.

Their walk now ended,
may their future be much brighter
than their past.

All My Relations


  1. Wonderful haibun, Sherry. The repeated lines definitely strengthen the PASSION of your poem. What a dedicated group of walkers. I do indeed hope their future is bright!

  2. This does bring tears to my eyes. Everything's so political. I hope the world gets its priorities straight soon.

  3. It's most moving and most fascinating! It revolves around the usual theme. If there's no money involved then it means nothing! The deprived has nothing to offer. Investors who talk dollars and sense will get better attention! It's the same anywhere else that I know!


  4. This moved me to tears, Sherry.

  5. Your Haibun is amazing! I learned so much from your explanation as well as your poem. One of my best friends grew up on a Navajo Reservation. Poverty was a constant. Only recently, have the traditional Navajo artisans begun to make what they deserve for their rugs and jewelry. And many now work in factories that have been built on their land, with their permission and voice in control. It seems indigenous people are treated similarly around the world.

  6. My heart did walk with every step as I read your poem!

    I felt as if I were in a living myth of an epic scale listening to a great speech by the leader of a revolution!
    I have read a couple of your posts now and I am humbled by the substance of your subject matter.
    These are poems that really make a difference!

    I also love your use of different videos, images and media to create a full atmosphere!


  7. Thank you Sherry for bringing this to light! This is so sad...I truly do not understand how your and our governments can ignore the facts!

    Your power brings the attention to focus!

    Bravo Wild Woman

  8. I had no idea this was going on, thanks for bringing it to my heart so movingly

  9. nice post - thanks for sharing this - very very apt for the passion prompt

  10. Very moving story Sherry ~ Thanks for highlighting their cause ~ And yes those pandas are better cared for than some of our people ~

  11. May their days be brighter
    and may the leaders across our world be enlightened and see what really matters for today and tomorrow

  12. Sherry,

    You have highlighted a great travesty of justice in Canada, of which the rest of the world has not heard about, or might well be choosing to ignore...As happens...Of course, most of Europe has had daily feedback about the tribulations and bad behaviour of that 'celebrity' Beiber. That is what entertains the world, rather than the failings of humanity to address the proper care and concern for a group of its people.
    You are educating me Sherry with the recent subjects of your writing. Thank you:)
    Have a Happy Easter Sherry,

  13. Wonderful writing, Sherry - impassioned indeed. May the day come when such writing, and the actions it describes, are no longer needed.

  14. I have been inspired greatly by your poem and post and wrote something along the lines too.

    Great poem, Koko.

  15. This is such a passionate piece, Sherry! So quickly you can spin a yarn and do it very well too. Something to be admired...
    This definitely welled up my eyes!

  16. oh lovely...if it hadnot been for the passion of these ppl....giant steps for the mankind! kudos! to them


I so appreciate you taking the time to read and comment.
Thank you so much. I will be over to see you soon!