jingles speak to the healing

aanii kina wiya! hello everyone! sharing this poem that i was commissioned to write for ‘Zaagi’idiwin: Silent, Unquestionable Act of Love’ an exhition by Leanna Marshall at Robert Langen Gallery, Wilfred Laurier University in 2018. what an honour is was to write a long series poem for Leanna’s beautiful healing dresses. this poem is published in a beautiful booklet click here for more info. enjoy!! ps. hope you’re enjoying the late spring heat wave! stay safe and take care. miigwech/thank you for visiting, vera



ookomis once said,

the longest journey we, humans, will ever take

is the path of healing

it begins when we listen


mishoomis once said,

the trees connect us through roots

with limbs outstretched, ready to hold, carry us forward

as the mist dissipates with the rising sun

sit, listen

maybe one day you will know

how roots travel into the earth

connecting and grounding

each of us


our voices are vibrations

traveling a path from heart to heart

it is up to us to decipher meaning

like ancestors who had visions seven generations ago

tune into the reverberation


narratives stored in our dna

memories linked to our histories

stories filtered through generations

healing stitched in fabric

hope gathers in jingle dresses

fabric gathers stories along lines of jingles

like tree lines along the shores lake superior

with each jingle a story is remembered

like roots running in the earth gathering strength


a full moon story

a residual memory

from life at residential school 

a painful moon connects broken families

a jingle is placed for each tear

a young girl sheds

a crying moon carries the hurt

as a young girl endures pain from wicked hands

a praying moon enlightens

as a young girl’s pain is remembered

with a grandmother’s voice

a jingle is stitched for every day at residential school

in each stitch, jingles heal a grandmother’s journey 

back to a full moon of hope


the medicine from the earth

comes through the jingles

jingles speak to the healing

for the women who swim with fishes

each jingle carries a memory

they are not forgotten in each stitch

each jingle carries a prayer

jingles gather along lines of ribbons

the medicine from the water flows

beneath the solid layer of ice 

the sound of jingles resonate

frozen in the shuffle steps across lake superior

prayers reverberate below

jingles sound like water and wind as it flows sacred around you


listen to the spirit of the jingle dress 

jingle dress dancer

dance with intention

listen to the heart beats coming from the earth

dance for healing

dance for the people who shuffle across the earth

align with the full moon and the cosmos and the ancestors

shake up this world

gather the medicine from the earth

gather the medicine from the water

gather the medicine from the wind

gather the medicine from the trees

gather it all in every jingle

jingle dress dancer

break a new trail and call it a healing path

with each step, jingles ignite the medicine from the earth

healing is constant like the wind

healing is resilient like the land

healing is fluid like the water

healing is sustainable like the trees 

these healing dresses

are dancing




a grandmother once said,

the longest journey we, anishnaabeg, will ever take

is the path of healing and it begins when we listen with our hearts

the journey from our hearts to our minds

is a path with many obstacles

some we make ourselves

others were there before we were born

there’s no short-cut or by-pass

the only way is to find your voice

the voice finds strength with each telling

the chords thread and stitch our lives

remember this and you will honour

voice, story, self


a grandfather once said,

my story, your story, each of our stories 

are important

we carry our stories on our backs

sometimes stories are heavy,

weighing down, curving the spine

like trees bending from the northern wind

sometimes stories are shared

like seeds floating on a summer breeze

taking root wherever they land

becoming medicine from the earth

our stories take root

ground us in the earth

so we can gather the strength

to stand like the trees

and reach for sky


jingle dress dancer

a dreamcatcher

who sees with spirit

zaagiidiwin guides dreams to those who listen

jingle dress dancer

a collector

who listens with love

zaagiidiwin travels traplines of history

jingle dress dancer

a seeker

who touches with gentleness

zaagiidiwin threads through seven generations

jingle dress dancer

a transmitter

who connects to the medicine from the earth

zaagiidiwin is the teaching in the making