11 Jan Oh No, Canada!
Ahnee, Boozhoo, Niin Renee Nindiishnakaaz. This is Anishinaabemowin (Ojibwe) for, “Hello, my name is Renee.” I am an Indigenous youth, and like many of my people, I am angry. Angry about the settler state occupying our land, furious about the Canadian government’s broken promises, and enraged by the mass inaction in solving these issues faced by Indigenous people.
I wrote the following poem for the International Indigenous Peoples’ Day of Rage Against Colonialism, which occurred on October 11, 2020. The first time I read this poem at a protest, I was met with angry pedestrians exclaiming, “This is Canada!” It was almost as if they believed that by saying it enough, it could become true. Canada is an illegitimate state situated on unceded Indigenous lands which prospers from the oppression of Black and Indigenous people. My apologies if this upsets you, but it upsets me too.
I wrote this poem because I am tired of saying it nicely and begging others to care. I am tired of politely asking oppressors to stop oppressing. I intend for you to feel these words in your bones. Read these words and join the revolution:
Oh, Canada – your home on Native Land.
Hold on, I’m not sure if you heard me, so I’ll say it again.
Oh, Canada – your home on Native Land.
In all thy son’s command, as long as you’re an alabaster man
White fragilities I fully intend to offend
Blood dripping from greedy, pampered hands.
We will no longer allow you to ignore or pretend.
For this land is my birthright and with the strength of my ancestors,
I will protect and defend
Against molesting investors spreading infections
lethal injections and your favourite historical fiction collections.
While fermenting their projections that reiterate time and time again their actions will kill us. Canada you are killing us.
But full of Interjections of our multicultural utopian Canadian perfection
You awe at American selections of white male oppressors
Instead of protectors and land defenders, you follow defectors on capitalist ventures Electors of your own demise
Who still haven’t realized, when you’ve drowned Mother Earth in tar and Mars is too far This land is still ours.
Free our brothers and sisters from behind bars, and get appropriately alarmed
For what Trudeau failed to mention – too busy with malicious, performative actions and intentions – blind eyes to the detection of fatal tensions
Middle finger to calls for UN intervention
False tales of our government striving for redemption
Canada – for you, Indigenous people have no damn affection.
Forget your 153 celebrations of colonial occupation.
When you sing your song about glowing hearts standing strong,
Remember what we have been screaming all along.
This is your home on Native Land. Title never exchanged hands.
Try to Divide us into bands, or think you can lay trans-Canada pipelines on our sacred lands And kidnap our people in vans.
Tack reserve up on a sign, like that could steal the traditional knowledge we keep in our minds.
Trust me when I say, our people are resilient
And we will rise.
It’s time to decolonize. No time for compromise. We will not stand by for genocide.
Cut the lies and disguises, drop the shamefully transparent guises
And don’t act like you know how to advise us, when you penalize us for daring to defy. Open your goddamn eyes.
They say life isn’t fair, but what they really mean is that they just don’t care.
Prepare and beware because, sweetie, didn’t anyone ever tell you that life ain’t fair?
As if the conversation is just supposed to end there.
Like cutting our hair and telling us what to wear will bleach our spirits, dye us fairer Because the melanated magic scares them
Didn’t you hear us?
We’re not going anywhere.
Let that fill you with fear
When you lay in your bed, hear the ancestors you killed whisper in your ear
And feel our tears.
Know we will not stop until we know our children won’t have to hear this racist bullshit in the coming years.
We are strong. We are resilient, and we are Indigenous.
Miigwetch (thank you) for taking the time to read this poem – for taking the time to learn. Truth must come before reconciliation can be achieved between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people on this land. Learning is the first step, and I appreciate anyone who does the work to start this journey.
– Renee Corbiere