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Canada, I can cite for you, 150

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This week’s Canada 150 post explores a poem by Michif (Métis) artist Christi Belcourt.  But first, as always, a little bit about the artist.

Christi Belcourt is avisual artist with a deep respect for Mother Earth, the traditions and the knowledge of her people.  In addition to her paintings she is also known as a community based artist, environmentalist and advocate for the lands, waters and Indigenous peoples. She is currently a lead organizer for the Onaman Collective which focuses on resurgence of language and land based practices. She is also the lead coordinator for Walking With Our Sisters, a community-driven project that honours murdered or missing Indigenous women. Her work Giniigaaniimenaaning (Looking Ahead) commemorates residential school survivors, their families and communities to mark the Prime Minister’s historic Apology in 2008 and is installed at Centre Block on Parliament Hill commissioned by the Government of Canada.  She was named the Aboriginal Arts Laureate by the Ontario Arts Council in 2015. In 2016 she won a Governor General’s Innovation Award and was named the winner of the 2016 Premier’s Awards in the Arts.  Author of Medicines To Help Us (Gabriel Dumont Institute, 2007) and Beadwork (Ningwakwe Learning Press, 2010). Christi’s work is found within the permanent collections of the National Gallery of Canada, the Art Gallery of Ontario, Gabriel Dumont Institute, the Indian and Inuit Art Collection, Parliament Hill, the Thunder Bay Art Gallery and Canadian Museum of Civilization, First People’s Hall. You can find her work at http://christibelcourt.com

Canada,

I can cite for you
150

Lists of the dead

150 languages no longer spoken

150 rivers poisoned

150 Indigenous children taken into care last month

150 Indigenous communities without water

150 grieving in a hotel in Winnipeg

150 times a million lies

told to our faces

to steal our lands.

Canada,

I can cite for you
150

Forms of resistance

150 battles to the death

150 water warriors walking

150 naming ceremonies

150 ways we shake the ground with dance and song

150 tattooed expressions of sovereignty

150 times 2 million days faces were painted

with earth of this land.
 
Canada,

I can cite for you
150

Summers coming of resurgence

150 thousand babies birthed in ceremonies

150 thousand status cards burned

150 thousand youth marching for water

150 thousand children with braids and feathers in their hair

150 thousand Indigenous words being spoken without English

150 summers coming

of Mother Earth calling out to our hearts

150 summers coming

where you too, will finally come to understand

the power and spirit of these lands and waters

as our ancestors have known and have been trying to tell you for 500 years.
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