O Canada – a revised poem

this land rich with resources

oil, the blood, extracted 

gold, the treasure, extracted

diamonds, the best of all, extracted

resources that fuelled the colonization

of Native land

 

resources that were sent back

to the Motherland to build an empire

 

resources that were used to enslave

millions of other brown folk

generation after generation

after generation

extraction comes at a cost

as colonizers wipe their feet

on the skeletons of the past,

present and future

from far and wide

 

O Canada

your rivers once ran free

your lakes once ran clear

your oceans once ran with the mighty salmon

now, the water is dirty

backed up with waste

nuclear and sewage

fish are deadly catches these days

mercury lining their silver bellies

 

O Canada

today the water is still contaminated

in so many First Nation communities

that’s bewildering 

water is a human right

and a treaty right

God keep our land, glorious and free!

 

O Canada

there is a grandmother walking

around the great lakes

the rivers, the creeks

people are joining her

from the four directions

they are praying

they are singing

they are offering sacred medicines

praying it’s not too late

to protect the rights of Water

 

O Canada

people are rising up

together they stand, united

like the many strands of hair

braided they are one

people cry out in protest

a plea to use reason

and common sense

to stop the clear-cutting

to stop the destruction of sacred land

to stop the extracting of oil

to stop the contamination of the water

to just stop and think

about the generations to come

 

the people who protest you, O Canada

are targeted by the police

who attack from horse back

from behind police shields they pepper spray

and drag them down to prison

in plastic hand cuffs

the true north strong and free?

 

the people are protesting

in Grassy Narrows,

the tar sands in Alberta,

the streets in Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal

Ottawa and all the places in between

we stand on guard for thee!

O Canada the fire is lit

in the hearts of many to take a stand

how will we all fit into your jails?

 

O Canada

 

Indigenous men are taken for a ride

by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police

in the middle of the night

they are left on the side of the road

in the middle of winter

anyone who knows you

O Canada

knows that the winters are cold

frost bite freezes beneath the skin

and the men are carved in snow

with glowing hearts we see thee rise

 

O Canada

 

Indigenous women are missing

across the land

no one sees them

they are shadows that disappear

in the first ray of light

no one hears them

screaming, pleading, begging for help

from busy streets

aunties, sisters, mothers, daughters

and grandmothers

are missing

are murdered

on Crown land

where are they, O Canada?

 

O Canada

Indigenous children are taken 

by the Church, the Government, the RCMP,

the holy trinity, blessed be it is

to be educated, to be protected, 

to be silent, to be obedient

to be trained, to take the holy sacrament

to be placed in the hands of the holy

to be placed in the homes of the privileged

all under the protection of

O Canada

 

O Canada

the people are gathering

they are here to listen

to share, to witness

the history of Canada

 

the people are waking

up to emergency sirens

the bones of children are shaking the ground

under our feet

and the world sets their eyes on you,

O Canada

 

O Canada

our home on Native land

our home because of Native land

our home despite of Native land

our home regardless of Native land

our home ignores Native land

our home trespasses on Native land

our home isn’t a home without Native land

O Canada

 

If you got to the end of this poem, thank you for reading. And please do keep reading! The more we educate ourselves the better it will be for generations to come. The more we learn about our shared histories the more uncomfortable we will become as we uncover the truths of the generations before us. Once we learn the truth there’s no going backwards! We can only move forward because that’s the way our toes are pointing 😉

This poem was originally published in CV2’s Northern Ontarian Innovative and Indigenous Poetics and has been re-edited for this post.

Please feel free to share and perhaps add a few lines to the poem!

Take care and be free.