Stories central in Vera Wabegijig’s new book of poetry, wild rice dreams by Greg Macdougall
OTTAWA – Vera Wabegijig’s first book, “wild rice dreams”, comes after 20 years of writing poetry.
The mother of two was born in Sudbury to a mother from Mississauga First Nation and a father from Wikwemikong, and says her upbringing in Blind River and Iron Bridge was missing any cultural context. (read more… )
Waaseyaa’sin Christine Sy in Conversation with Vera Wabegijig
Waaseyaa’sin Christine Sy (WCS): Language, our language is everywhere. I noticed the lovely inscription you wrote in the copy of wild rice dreams, particularly how you wrote “or, manoomin bwaadang” after the title. anishinaabemowin has an active presence in much of your writing and although it lives somewhat transiently in this collection, I was wondering if you’re fluent or if you’re reclaiming it like so many of our generation?
Vera Wabegijig (VW): So, I’m an adult learner. I’m not fluent by any means. I try to use it at home. My youngest daughter knows some words and phrases. It’s remarkable that she remembers what I teach her. When I was growing up I heard my granny, grandma, aunties, and uncles speaking it. They would always switch to English when they talked to us kids. If they were talking about something private, or to protect us, they would switch back to anishnaabemowin. This is when I would try to listen real hard, but I had no real grasp so couldn’t decipher any of it. All I really learned when I was a kid was being told what to do—the commands like wiisnin! bindigin! maadibin! eat! come in! sit down! besaanyaan! be quiet! lol! This tells me so much about parenting and child rearing. You were told what to do and not really asked if you wanted to do it. Now of course that has changed. So from being a kid to a young adult I only picked up a little bit more of the language but not enough to actually have a conversation. (read more…)